Middle East Monitor / September 18, 2020
A group of Israeli rabbis from across the religious Zionist spectrum have issued a statement in support of Amiram Ben Uliel, the Jewish-Israeli terrorist sentenced on Monday to three life sentences for the murder of 18-month-old baby Ali Dawabsheh and his parents, Saad and Riham, on 31 July 2015.
The statement, which was released after Ben Uliel was sentenced on Monday, claims that Ben Uliel’s confession was extracted via enhanced interrogation techniques and that it is therefore legally inadmissible. It has been signed by around two dozen rabbis, including Rabbi Haim Drukman, arguably Israel’s most influential religious leader.
“The concern that an innocent man could be imprisoned for the rest of his life before our eyes does not let us rest. It is our duty to help as much as possible for the sake of justice for Amiram,” wrote the rabbis.
The joint statement included a call for the general public to donate “generously and from the heart” to a funding campaign for a defence team of senior lawyers expected to challenge Monday’s verdict in Israel’s Supreme Court.
Such calls have also been echoed by well-known Israeli personalities, including Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Monday, the younger Netanyahu retweeted a link to a fundraiser to aid in the defence of Ben Uliel set up by Honenu, a far-right legal aid group which seeks to safeguard Jewish Israelis from any legal implications arising from anti-Arab/Palestinian violence.
In response to the rabbis’ call for Ben Uliel’s release, British-Palestinian journalist Zaher Birawi noted: “The issuance of such statements clearly indicates the level of racism prevalent across Israeli society, whether at the political level or across the religious establishment. It indeed reflects the true face of the occupation state, which tries to mask racist anti-Palestinian/Arab sentiment through work conducted by central institutional organs such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The free world must take heed of such sentiment, as well as of reporting into Israeli incitement and hatred against Palestinians, and vehemently reject it as a matter of urgency. Against this backdrop, paradoxical assumptions that Israel is an oasis of democracy in the Middle East must be deconstructed amidst such overt racism.”
The case of the Dawabsheh family and the arson attack that killed 18-month-old Ali, his parents, and left five-year-old Ahmed as the lone survivor with second and third-degree burns on more than 60 per cent of his body, is one of the most heinous anti-Palestinian “price-tag” attacks to take place in recent Israeli history.
So-called “price-tag” attacks have been on the rise in recent years as the settler movement in Israel has become increasingly emboldened by the lack of accountability for such attacks. In the first five months of 2020, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented 143 price-tag attacks that led to the injuries of 63 Palestinians, including 13 children, and damage to over 3,700 trees and saplings, various field crops and more than 100 vehicles.