A shouting match erupted Tuesday during a court hearing meant to determine the punishment for a Jewish extremist, convicted of killing three members of a Palestinian family by throwing a firebomb into their home five years ago.
Settler Amiram Ben-Uliel, 26, was found guilty a month ago of the racially motivated murder of the Dawabsha family in July of 2015 that killed parents, Saad and Riham and their 18-months-old baby Ali in the Palestinian village of Duma in the West Bank.
During a hearing in the Lod District Court on Tuesday afternoon, MKs from the predominantly Arab Joint List party interrupted the proceedings, when the party's leader began accusing the defendant's wife. "Your husband burned a family, he has to rot in prison," Ahmad Tibi shouted.
"The defendant committed an act of revenge. He did not know Saad, Riham or Ali," said Attorney Yael Atzmon from the State Attorney’s Office. "The decision to kill them was made only because they were Arabs.”
“For the three murders, the defendant will be sentenced to life imprisonment in accordance with the law,” added Atzmon, “we will ask the court to impose the sentence of life imprisonment and order compensation to those affected by the crime."
The Office of the State Attorney seeks to sentence Ben-Uliel to three cumulative life sentences, in addition to 40 years in prison for other offenses of which he was convicted, such as attempted murder of family members who survived the arson attack. He was acquitted of a charge of belonging to a terrorist organization.
Ben-Uliel's attorney, Asher Ohayon, said they intend to appeal the sentencing to the Supreme Court.
"There is no Jew who is not shocked by this. No one was giving out candy after it happened," he said, referring to instances when Palestinians distribute sweets after attacks on Israelis.
Hussein Dawabsha, the grandfather of the toddler who was killed, also testified in court. ”My girl built a house that was burned down. She herself had been burned almost entirely, what father could bear it?" he said.
I sat with Ahmed for six months in the hospital and every day he asked to see his parents," he added, referring to the couple's other child, who survivied.
The grandfather wanted to extend his gratitude to the doctors who cared for the wounded family members: "Some [doctors] were Jewish, they did everything they could."
Nasser, Saad’s brother, also gave his testimony during the hearing, saying since the incident the whole family lives in fear of a revenge attack from other Jewish extremists.
“We live in fear, imprisoned in our homes like dogs," he said. "We barricade our windows with metal bars, like in prison, and go to the bathroom together. We suffer greatly, we have lost three souls. Our family has been burned thrice,” he added.
“I speak on my behalf, on behalf of my family and the entire Palestinian nation. We oppose this happening to anyone in the world, we are people who spread love and oppose terror. "
In January 2016, the Central District Attorney's Office indicted Ben-Uliel along with a minor, who was 17 years old at the time and whose name is under strict gag order, on charges of attempted murder.
The minor in the case had already reached a plea bargain, when he admitted to be involved in the conspiracy to carry out the attack (which he did not actually commit) and was determined to be a member of a terrorist organization.
The state will seek a five-and-a-half year prison sentence, while the minor’s defense attorneys plan to ask for a lighter punishment.
According to the indictment, the two wanted revenge against Arabs following the drive-by shooting of Malachy Rosenfeld days earlier.The two agreed to carry out an attack in Duma and another Arab village, with the intention of killing Arabs.
On July 31, the two agreed to meet in a nearby enclave. When the minor failed to show up, Ben-Uliel decided to carry out the attack alone. He arrived in the village of Duma, threw a Molotov cocktail into one house, and then headed to the Dawabsha family home and repeated the act.
Ben-Uliel soon fled the scene as the fire from his molotov cocktail started to spread and engulf the home of the Dawabsha family.
The fire gripped all four members of the family who were present in the house. The parents and the boy Ahmed managed to flee the house, while baby Ali remained in his crib and did not survive the fire.
Neighbors who arrived at the scene evacuated Ahmed, Saad and Riham to the hospital in serious condition.
Saad died of his wounds eight days later, while Riham succumbed to her wounds a month after the incident.