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From the field

B'Tselem: A burned infant was only a matter of time in view of policy to not enforce law on violent settlers

Update: On 8 August 2015 37-year-old Sa’ed Dawabsheh, the father of the Dawabsheh family, succumbed to his injuries. He died at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, Israel.  On 7 September 2015, the mother, Riham Hussein Dawabsheh, 27, also succumbed to her injuries.

The killing of a one and a half year old infant, 'Ali Sa'ed Dawabsheh, and the serious injury of his mother Riham, his father Sa'ed and his toddler brother 'Ahmed, after a suspected arson attack by Israeli civilians burned their home, was only a matter of time. This, due to the authorities' policy to avoid enforcing the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians and their property. This policy creates impunity for hate crimes, and encourages assailants to continue, leading to this morning's horrific result.

According to B'Tselem statistics, in the past three years since August 2012, Israeli civilians set fire to nine Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Additionally, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Palestinian taxi, severely burning the family on board. No one was charged in any of these cases. The ISA suspects two were related to the perpetrators of June's arson attack on the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, but it is doubtful these cases would have been solved independently of the effort put into the church arson inside Israel.

In recent years, Israeli civilians set fire to dozens of Palestinian homes, mosques, businesses, agricultural land and vehicles in the West Bank. The vast majority of these cases were never solved, and in many of them the Israeli Police did not even bother take elementary investigative actions.

The fact that the Samaria and Judea (SHAI) Police and other law enforcement bodies have failed to solve these attacks isn't fate. Rather, it is the result of a policy expressed throughout all levels of the law enforcement system, in particular the political echelons, up to and including the Prime Minister. In light of this, official condemnations of this attack are empty rhetoric as long as politicians continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the incitement which serve is backdrop to these acts.

In light of this, the clock is ticking in the countdown to the next arson attack, and the one after.

  • On 12 May 2019, the media reported that a minor had been convicted of conspiring to torch the Dawabsheh home and of involvement in other hate crimes, as part of a plea bargain. On 18 May 2020, Amiram Ben-Uliel was convicted of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and conspiring to commit a racially-motivated crime. On 14 September 2020, Ben Uliel was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, 20 additional years of imprisonment, and a monetary compensation of close to a million NIS to members of the Dawabsheh family. On 16 September 2020, the minor was sentenced to 42 months of imprisonment, after deduction of the 32 months he spent in custody.