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The New Arab

House arrest confirmed for Israeli over Palestinian deaths

An 18-month old baby was killed in the attack [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 July, 2018

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An Israeli suspect in a 2015 firebombing that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents has been rejected an appeal against house arrest, his lawyers said.

Israel's supreme court on Sunday rejected an appeal against house arrest for an Israeli suspect in a 2015 firebombing that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents, his lawyers said.

On Thursday, an Israeli district court ordered the suspect, a minor at the time of the arson, released from prison to house arrest after throwing out parts of his confession.

His release was delayed until Sunday to allow prosecutors to appeal but a statement from right-wing legal aid organisation Honenu, which is representing the suspect, said the appeal had been rejected.

The ruling was the latest sign that the prosecution's case against the suspect, who was 17 at the time of the firebombing, may be faltering.

The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, is accused of being an accessory to racially motivated murder and is being tried as a minor.

He and the main suspect, Amiram Ben-Uliel, were charged in January 2016. 

Ben-Uliel was charged - when he was 21 - with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, arson and conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

Last month, the district court threw out parts of the confessions of both the minor and Ben-Uliel, who is from the northern West Bank settlement of Shilo.

The court ruled that the confessions it had thrown out were obtained through physical coercion that defence lawyers describe as torture.

Other confessions made by both of them however remain part of the case.

Eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burnt to death when the family home in the village of Duma in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was firebombed.

His parents later died of their injuries. His brother Ahmed, four at the time of the attack, was the sole survivor from the immediate family but was left with severe burns.

Israeli security services came under heavy pressure to catch and try those responsible.

Court documents made publicly available have not elaborated on the techniques used by investigators when obtaining their confessions.

Israeli daily Haaretz said they would typically have included "painful physical means such as binding hands and feet... or prolonged uncomfortable kneeling."

In May, relatives of the now 7-year-old sole survivor filed a lawsuit against Israel demanding it be held responsible and pay damages over the 2015 attack blamed on Jewish extremists in the occupied West Bank.

"Today we filed a complaint with the Nazareth district court demanding the state of Israel be held responsible for the burning of the Dawabsheh family in the village of Duma in the West Bank," lawyer Hassan al-Khatib, who represents the family, told AFP by phone.

Ahmed's uncle Nasser Dawabsheh said they were seeking an admission of responsibility from the state and 16 million shekels (four million euros, 4.4 million US dollars) in damages.

An Israeli defence official said at the time tha the Palestinian family would not be eligible for compensation that applies to terror victims since it is only open for Israeli citizens.

The official said the family would be able to apply instead to an alternative committee that compensates people for so-called nationalist attacks.

Nasser Dawabsheh confirmed to AFP they had rejected a previous compensation offer because they were demanding the state accept responsibility, which he said had been refused.

Israel has occupied the West Bank for 50 years and Khatib said the state must accept responsibility for the killings.

"The child Ahmed suffers from disability," he added, as well as "medical and psychological incapacity from the loss of his father, mother and brother".

Settler violence has become a daily reality for many Palestinians, who are subject to intimidation, vandalism and physical assault from armed Israelis who act mostly with impunity.

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