LOD, Israel An Israeli settler was sentenced Monday to three life sentences plus 20 years for killing a Palestinian couple and their young son in a July 2015 fire bomb attack on their home.
The attack on the Dawabsheh family in the West Bank village of Duma terrified Palestinians, who have long denounced what they see as Israel’s lenient stance on settler violence.
But the horrific nature of the killings shocked people on both sides of the divide and drew condemnation from Israeli leaders as well. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an act of terrorism.
In addition to the prison sentence, a three-judge panel at the Lod District Court in central Israel ordered settler Amiram Ben-Uliel, 26, to pay Dawabsheh family members $ 288,893 in compensation within 90 days.
Judge Ruth Lorch said that Mr. Ben-Uliel had not committed a reckless act in a spontaneous manner, but rather his actions were meticulously planned and stemmed from the racism and extremist ideology he held.
Mr Ben-Uliel attended the video conference sentencing. Immediately after Judge Lorch finished reading the verdict, Mr. Ben Uliels, Orion, denounced the judges.
Shame on you all! She exclaimed.
You are all killers, replied a supporter of the Dawabsheh family.
In May, judges sentenced Mr. Ben-Uliel for murder, attempted murder, arson and conspiracy to commit a racist-motivated crime.
The attack killed Saad Dawabsheh, 32, and Riham Dawabsheh, 27, along with their 18-month-old son, Ali. Their eldest son, Ahmad, who was 5 years old at the time of the attack, suffered severe burns but survived.
In its decision, the court found that Mr. Ben-Uliel had planned the attack on revenge for a shot who killed a column about a month ago. The court said he had admitted crawling through an olive grove and bypassing some Palestinian homes to carry out an attack in the heart of the village and create more fear.
Using bottles of grape juice to make fire bombs, Mr. Ben-Uliel attacked a house, not knowing it was empty, the court found. He then targeted a second home where the Dawabsheh family was lying asleep.
Neighbors who heard the screams rushed home and found Mr. Dawabsheh rolling on the ground outside and his wife on fire. Their little boy was already dead, and Ahmed could be heard screaming inside.
The decision said that Mr. Ben-Uliel had painted with vengeance Revenge and Long Live the Messiah on the walls of the family home in Hebrew.
Witnesses said they had seen two masked men watching the family being burned. A teenager, whose name was not released because he was a minor at the time of the attack, reached a plea bargain last year, admitting he conspired to carry out ethnically motivated arson in exchange for prosecutors who dropped murder charges against him.
Yael Atzmon, the state’s chief prosecutor, said Monday’s sentencing sent an important message that people who commit racially motivated attacks will be severely punished, regardless of their identity. The message from the court, she said: Terror is terror.
However, human rights groups have said that while Israel has taken greater action to prosecute Jewish perpetrators of violence against Palestinians in the most horrific cases, it has invested few resources to solve the wider problem.
Authorities have created an environment that allows resident violence to continue, said Lior Amihai, executive director of Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group. We see new cases every week that never reach the court.
Yesh din reported in December, that of more than 1,200 investigations of alleged violence conducted by Israeli Jewish citizens against Palestinian civilians since 2005, only 8 percent had led to lawsuits.
Yitzhak Bam, a lawyer representing Mr. Ben-Uliel, said his client intended to appeal the sentence to the Supreme Court on Monday.
On the eve of tears, Hussein Dawabsheh, Rihams father, said nothing would compensate for the loss of his daughter, son-in-law and nephew. And his surviving nephew, he said, still suffers from his burns.
As for Me, that did not bring me back happiness, he said. Nothing came back to me.
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