Five years after the infamous arson attack that killed three members of the Dawabsheh family, one of the Israeli settlers responsible for the attack was convicted on Monday.
The Lod District Court in Israel convicted 25-year-old Amiram Ben-Uliel on three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of arson, and conspiracy to commit an ethnically-motivated crime, which can carry up to a life sentence in prison.
According to the indictment, Ben-Uliel was the person responsible for firebombing two homes in the village of Duma, south of Nablus in the early morning of July 31st, 2015.
He allegedly targeted homes that he thought were inhabited, with the intention of harming as many Palestinians as possible.
After firebombing the first home, whose inhabitants weren’t inside at the time, Beni-Uliel set his sights on the Dawabsheh family home, where he spray-painted the words “revenge” and “Long Live King Messiah” on the walls before throwing a Molotov cocktail through the family’s bedroom window.
18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh died in the fire, and his parents, Riham and Saad later succumbed to their wounds in the hospital. Their son Ahmad, who was 4-years-old at the time, sustained severe burns on over 60% of his body.
The attack caused outrage among Palestinians and international activists, as it served as an example of what happens when Israeli extremism in the occupied territories goes unchecked.
Despite what many say was a clear, racially-charged motive to harm Palestinians and instill fear in their community, the court acquitted Ben-Uliel of charges that he belonged to a terrorist organization.
In their ruling, the judges said they acquitted him of the terrorism charges “because although the attack was an act of terror, there was not enough evidence to prove any links to organizations,” Haaretz reported.
Ben-Uliel, however, was reported to be a member of the infamous “hilltop youth organization,” an extremist, ultra-nationalist group of young Israeli settlers who believe that it is their God-given right to settle the lands of the West Bank, using any means necessary, including violence.
The group is considered by Palestinians, and many Israelis, as a terrorist group, and have heavily documented as committing countless attacks on Palestinains and their property.
Following the court’s decision, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency described Ben-Uliel’s crimes as a “severe crossing of a red line,” and that the conviction was “an important milestone in the battle against Jewish terror.”
The family however, told Middle East Eye that just conviction Ben-Uliel was “not enough”, and that others who were involved in the crime should also be held accountable to the same degree.
Last year, Israeli prosecutors made a plea bargain with an unnamed Israeli minor who was involved in the attack. They reduced his charges from murder to conspiracy, and promised to only pursue a maximum five-year sentence, Haaretz reported.
The minor in question was reportedly named in Ben-Uliel’s confession several times, and was allegedly responsible for helping him plan the attack.
Despite the judges saying that it was “impossible to know” if there was another perpetrator along with Ben-Uliel, eyewitness testimony given to local and international media outlets back in 2015 all suggest that there were at least two masked figures who were seen fleeing the scene of the crime.
Haaretz quoted Hussein Dawabsheh, the father of Riham Dawabsheh, saying that he “feels that the trial was for others, not for me. It won’t bring back my daughter; her husband and my grandson won’t return, but I don’t want another child to be in Ahmed’s place. We experienced a great trauma, and I won’t forget it in 100 years. I don’t want this to happen to another family.”