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Israeli suspect in 2015 firebomb killing of Palestinian family strikes plea deal

The unnamed 17-year-old suspect admitted to staking out the village of Duma before the Dawabshas were killed
Five-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha, sole survivor of the firebombing that killed his parents and brother, is welcomed back to Duma after a trip to Spain (AFP)

An Israeli suspect in the murder of a Palestinian family in 2015 will not have charges pressed against him after he struck a plea deal, the Israeli Justice Ministry has announced.

The suspect, who was under 17 at the time of the attack and has therefore not been identified, was originally charged in 2016 with being an accessory to a fire bomb attack in the West Bank village of Duma that killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and fatally injured his mother and father.

Ahmed Dawabsha, who was then four years old, was the sole survivor from the immediate family and escaped with severe burns.

On Sunday, the justice ministry said in a plea deal that the accused had admitted to staking out the village ahead of the killings.

In a statement, it said the unidentified youth, together with adult defendant Amiram Ben-Uliel, had observed the village through binoculars and discussed possible arson targets.

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Ben-Uliel, from the northern West Bank settlement of Shilo, remains on trial on three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, along with arson and conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

The ministry's statement said that the two had decided to raid Duma, but the minor did not show up at the planned rendezvous and therefore did not take part in the murders.

"It was determined that the defendant committed a conspiracy to commit a crime motivated by a racist motive," it said.

It added that under the plea bargain, the prosecution would seek a sentence of five and a half years in prison, subject to a mandatory review by the probation service. 

The suspect has already spent two years in jail and a year under house arrest, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

An Israeli district court had ordered him transferred from prison after throwing out parts of his confession, which it ruled that investigators had obtained through physical coercion, described by defence lawyers as torture.

The attack drew renewed attention to far-right Jewish violence and sparked accusations Israel has not done enough to prevent it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labelled it "terrorism".