Two young Israelis were charged on Sunday in connection with a deadly arson attack in July on a Palestinian home in the West Bank, a case that Israeli leaders condemned as Jewish terrorism and that enraged Palestinians.
Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, was charged with murder in the attack in the village of Duma, which killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents. Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, said that Mr. Ben-Uliel, who grew up in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank and spent some of his teenage years living in outposts on West Bank hilltops, had confessed to planning and carrying out the attack.
A minor who was not named confessed to helping plan the Duma attack, according to Shin Bet, and was charged with providing assistance and conspiracy to commit a crime. The court lifted an official gag order that had been imposed on the case for the last month but said that the name of the minor, who holds American citizenship, was still off limits.
The minor was also charged with involvement in four additional attacks on Palestinian property over the last 18 months and an arson attack last February on the Dormition Abbey, a landmark church that sits on Mount Zion, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.
Three more Israelis were charged with various additional crimes, including an assault on a Palestinian shepherd. Two of them are also minors.
In a statement on Sunday, a settlers group praised the indictments, saying that was “now clear that these acts were perpetrated by a fringe group of anarchists bent on destroying the State of Israel and the freedom and justice that it represents.”
The statement added that the group “condemns these heinous acts of unadulterated murder and will continue to work together with the security forces to ensure a peaceful future for all the residents of Judea and Samaria,” an Israeli phrase for the West Bank.
The Duma case has caused an uproar among the far right in Israel, with lawyers representing the suspects accusing Shin Bet interrogators of torturing and abusing them in order to extract confessions.
“We will make sure, as we did at the beginning, with our request to lift the gag order, to bring to the knowledge of the public everything that happened in this investigation,” Hai Haber, a lawyer representing one of the suspects, told Israel Radio. “The public has to know what goes on in the interrogation rooms of the Shin Bet so it can judge for itself,” he added.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, a lawyer representing Mr. Ben-Uliel, said, “This indictment is not the end. It is the beginning of opening a Pandora’s box against Shin Bet.”
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SOURCE: NY Times, Isabel Kershner