On July 31, 2015, an Israeli settler in the West Bank named Amiram Ben-Uliel walked into the Palestinian village of Duma under the cover of night and proceeded to carry out a macabre plan.
Intent on seeking vigilante vengeance against Palestinians for the fatal driveby shooting of Israeli civilian Malachy Rosenfeld one month earlier, Ben-Uliel, then 20, hurled Molotov cocktails through the windows of two residential homes after having spray-painted the slogans “Revenge” and “Long Live the Messiah” on their facades.
The first building he approached was empty, but a Palestinian family was sound asleep in the second structure: Saad Dawabshe, 32, his wife, Riham, 27, and their two young sons, Ali, 18 months, and Ahmad, 4 years old.
Neighbors, having heard shouting and screams, found Saad writhing in agony on the ground outside his home and Riham still on fire. Both succumbed to their wounds. Ali was already dead and Ahmad was seriously injured.
This was not the first time that Palestinians had been violently attacked by a Jewish terrorist. Since Israel’s conquest of the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War, innocent Arab civilians have been repeatedly victimized by Israeli vigilantes lashing out in retaliation for acts of terrorism committed by Palestinian terrorists.
These “price tag” attacks have run the gamut from the vandalization of olive groves and the stoning of cars to the burning of mosques and the attempted assassinations of Arab public officials.
A few incidents, in particular, stand out.
In 1980, the mayors of Nablus and Ramallah, Bassam Shakaa and Karim Khalif, lost legs in car bombings. Three students at the Islamic College in Hebron were killed in 1983. Baruch Goldstein, in 1994, murdered 29 Palestinians in a mosque in Hebron.
All too often, Jewish perpetrators have enjoyed a sense of impunity. Of some 1,200 investigations of violence committed by Israelis against Palestinians in the past 15 years, only eight percent have resulted in indictments, according to the Yesh Din human rights organization.
Ben-Uliel, whose premeditated act of cold-blooded murder shocked Israelis and Palestinians, will pay a heavy penalty for his murderous behavior.
On May 18, a district court in Lod convicted him of three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of arson. Sentencing is scheduled for June 9. In all likelihood, Ben-Uliel will receive a life sentence. Anything less would be widely regarded as a travesty of justice.
Lead prosecutor Yael Atzmon hailed the verdict, saying “terrorism is terrorism, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator.”
Ben-Uliel, a member of a far-right group known as Revolt, is an extremist par excellence.
He lived in an unauthorized outpost and identified with the so-called “hilltop youth,” whose misguided and dangerous acolytes call for the overthrow of the Israeli government, the resurrection of a Jewish kingdom underpinned by the Torah, and the removal of non-Jews from the West Bank.
With his conviction and pending imprisonment, Ben-Uliel has been removed from society and can no longer inflict harm on others.
One can only hope that his incarceration will set an example and turn out to be an important landmark in the struggle against Jewish extremism and terrorism.