Two Israelis charged with arson, murder of Palestinian family

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Court charges a 21-year-old and a minor over their role in arson attack that killed Dawabsheh parents, toddler last July

The Dawabsheh family's home in the West Bank village of Duma after the arson attack (AFP)
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Sunday 3 January 2016 16:03 UTC
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A court charged two Israelis on Sunday over a firebomb attack last year that led to the deaths of a Palestinian couple and their toddler, the Israeli judiciary said.

Amiram Ben Oliel, 21, from the northern settlement of Shilo in the occupied West Bank, will be tried for murder over the attack on the Dawabsheh family home in the West Bank village of Duma on 31 July.

A 17-year-old, who cannot be named under Israeli law because he is a minor, was charged with being an accessory to murder.

Investigators originally believed the suspects were 'price tag' attackers, but details of Shin Bet's probe, reported by Israel's Channel 2 on Sunday, reveal that they were part of attacks perpetrated by the Revolt Group, which seeks to topple Israel's government and replace it with a king.

Ben-Uliel was charged with three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of arson, and one count of conspiring to commit a nationalistically motivated crime.

Israeli daily Ynet reported that according to the indictment, he chose a house in the heart of the village, rather than one on the outskirts, to bolster the effect of fear and terror among the residents.

The two houses Ben-Uliel chose to target belonged to the Dawabsheh family - one housing Saed, Reham, and their two young sons, Ahmad and Ali, and the other owned by his brother, Mamoun Dawabsheh, who was away with his family at the time.

Ben-Uliel sprayed the words "Revenge" and "Long live the King Messiah" on the walls before he threw Molotov cocktails inside Mamoun Dawabsheh's empty house, which burned down completely, according to the indictment quoted in Ynet.

He then directed his attention to Saed and Reham Dawabsheh's house and threw two Molotov cocktails inside the bedroom window, where the family of four were all sleeping and he then fled the scene, the indictment said.

All four members of the Dawabsheh family caught fire. Eighteen-month-old Ali was left in his bed inside the burning house, as Saed and Reham managed to escape the house. Their four-year-old son, Ahmad, reached the front door before collapsing.

Ali's charred body was recovered once the firefighters put all out the flames. His father, Saed, died of his wounds eight days after the attack, while Reham succumbed to her burns a month  later. The only survivor is Ahmad, 60 percent of whose body is covered with second and third degree burns.

Ahmad recently returned to Duma after spending months recuperating at an Israeli hospital, according to local reports.

Hussein Dawabsheh, Saed's father, told Ynet that the indictment proves that the arson attack was carried out by a larger group and not just two suspects.

"It's true that they got a lead, but this terror attack was committed by other people as well," he was quoted as saying. "It can't be that only two people committed this attack, two people can't do something this big. You need a group, not one or two people.

"I'm sure there are people who are involved in this attack and they're still free."