A 25-year-old Israeli extremist was sentenced to three life terms Monday for the killing of a Palestinian family whose West Bank home he firebombed while they were sleeping in July 2015.
Amiram Ben-Uliel was convicted in May for murdering Saed and Reham Dawabsheh and their 18-month-old baby Ali. The family's other son, four-year-old Ahmed, was badly burned in the attack.
Ben-Uliel was found guilty of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of arson and conspiracy to commit a racially motivated crime. He was, however, acquitted of membership in a terrorist organization.
Handing down the sentence in Lod District Court on Monday, Judge Ruth Lorach said: "The defendant today receives his sentence for the serious acts he committed, which led to an unbearable outcome - the loss of the lives of members of the same family - three people, and the serious injury of Ahmed. His actions stemmed from extremist ideology and racism. He wanted them dead, because they were Arabs."
Ben-Uliel denied all the charges against him. He and his fellow suspects intially confessed and he even reenacted the attack for investigators but later retracted their confessions, claiming they had been subjected to "special investigative methods."
Hussein Dawabsheh, who is raising his grandson Ahmed following the murder of his parents, was in court to hear the sentence handed down.
"We did not want to be here in a place like this," he said. "I wish what happened five years ago had never had happened. If they had been caught [beforehand] and not allowed to do these things, it would never have happened. I want him to spend the rest of his life in prison."
"Yesterday, I got Ahmed ready for school," his grandfather said. "He has to wear a mask. I started to put it on him, but he is missing an ear, so there was no way to do it. He said to me ‘why did they do this to me? I'm not like all the other kids.' What will a court decision give Ahmed? It won't bring anything back to him."
According to the indictment, Ben-Uliel and a minor, who were living on and off in settlement outposts near Duma at the time, conspired during the month of July 2015 to avenge the murder of Malachi Rosenfeld by Palestinian terrorists.
The two met several times at the outposts of Geulat Zion - where the Ben-Uliel resided at the time - and Yishuv HaDa'at, to plan their attack, the indictment says.
They also conducted reconnaissance of the villages of Duma and Majdal Bani Fadil and decided to first target Duma and if they are able, commit an attack in Majdal Bani Fadil as well.
According to the indictment, Ben-Uliel prepared two bottles filled with flammable liquid, rags, a lighter, a box of matches, gloves, and a can of black spray paint to be used in the attack.
The two set to meet at a cave in Yishuv HaDa'at before leaving for Duma on the night of the attack, July 30, 2015, but for an unknown reason failed to meet each other there.
After waiting for the minor suspect for an hour at the cave, Ben-Uliel, dressed in dark clothes and carrying the items prepared for the attack in a bag, set out in the direction of Duma.
When arriving in Duma at around 11pm, Ben-Uliel used one of the two dark shirts he was wearing to cover his face, and put on his gloves. According to the indictment, he chose a house in the heart of the village, rather than one on the outskirts, to further bolster the effect of fear and terror among the residents. He sought out a house with signs of being inhabited to ensure he did not set fire to an abandoned home.
Ben-Uliel chose to target two homes belonging to the Dawabsheh family - one housing Saed, Reham, Ahmed and Ali, and the other owned by Mamoun Dawabsheh, with the latter house being empty.
He set Mamoun's empty house on fire with one of the Molotov cocktails, after spraying the word "Revenge" and drawing a Star of David on the wall of the house. He also sprayed the words "Long Live the King Messiah" and drew a crown on the wall surrounding the homes. Mamoun's house burned down as result of the arson.
Ben-Uliel then turned to Saed and Reham Dawabsheh's home, where, after failing to open two windows, he managed to open the window of the bedroom, where the entire family was sleeping, and hurled the second Molotov cocktail inside. He then fled the scene.
All four members of the Dawabsheh family were set alight. Saed and Reham were able to escape the house, Ahmed managed to reach the door of the home, while baby Ali was left in his bed inside the burning house.
Neighbors who arrived at the scene took Ahmed and his parents to hospital in critical condition, all suffering from extensive burns. Ali could not be rescued from the burning house until firefighters arrived at the scene and put out the blaze.
Ali Dawabsheh, 18 months old, died in the fire. His father Saed succumbed to his wounds eight days after the attack, while his mother Reham died after five weeks. Ahmed suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 60 percent of his body.