Two Israelis charged over West Bank arson attack

The July attack killed a Palestinian baby and his parents and left another child badly injured.

    Two Israelis charged over West Bank arson attack
    The deaths of the Dawabshehs triggered large protests in the occupied West Bank [Reuters]

    Israeli prosecutors have filed murder charges against two citizens in connection with a July 31 arson attack in the occupied West Bank that killed three members of a Palestinian family.

    Amiram Ben Oleal, 21, was indicted on Sunday for murder on the basis of a hate crime, and the second, a minor, was indicted as an accessory to murder.

    Yinon Reuveni, 20, and another minor were charged for other violence against Palestinians.

    The arson attack in the village of Duma killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh. His mother, Reham, and father, Saad, later died of their wounds.

    Ali's four-year-old brother Ahmad survived, though he was badly injured and is still undergoing recovery.

    The long-awaited indictment follows months of investigations that had failed to produce concrete results.

    RELATED: Israel's gun policy - A licence to kill Palestinians

    The case has revived criticism from rights groups which say there is a culture of impunity in Israel that allows attacks on Palestinians. 

    "This case took place months ago and during that time, unlike what the Israelis do when Palestinians are accused of violence, I didn't see that they closed down the entire settlement from which these people came, Diana Buttu, a lawyer and former Palestinian negotiator, told Al Jazeera.

    "I didn't see that they went on a house-to-house search, imposed curfews, took DNA samples, that people were held without charge or without trial." 

    According to Buttu, 93 percent of criminal cases involving settlers do not go to trial and even fewer result in a conviction.

    "Israel is not at all serious about addressing [settlers'] impunity. In fact, it wants to encourage it. These attacks that settlers carry out against Palestinians are merely an extension of the ongoing policy of Israel's encouragement of lawlessness."

    Ongoing violence

    Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford, speaking from West Jerusalem, said: "The government has been very careful in how it wants this reported. It's been a highly sensitive case. This announcement comes at a very sensitive time."

    The attacks took place before the outbreak of mass demonstrations across Israel and the occupied territories by Palestinians in protest of Israeli raids into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound and continued settlement expansion.

    But several other factors have contributed to the protests, including the murder of the Dawabshehs and other Palestinians in similar attacks and the lack of a proper response taken by the Israeli government, according to critics.

    The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Health stated on Friday that Israeli soldiers or settlers in 2015 shot and killed 179 Palestinians, including unarmed protesters, bystanders and alleged attackers. Of that total, 143 were killed after October 1, when tensions escalated sharply.

    Since October 1, lone Palestinian assailants killed 23 Israelis, including soldiers and civilians.

    Israel has also used the developments in the past several months to impose severe restrictions on Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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