+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Ya'alon casts doubt that Dawabsha family will see justice

Israel’s defense minister says he knows who is responsible for burning an entire family alive, but that charging them in court isn’t the state’s top priority.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Photo by Activestills.org)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Photo by Activestills.org)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed at least a handful of times to do everything in his power to bring the murders of the Dawabsha family to justice. His defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, on Wednesday hinted that the state’s priorities may have shifted — or that it may have a different definition of justice.

“The security agencies know who is responsible for the [Duma arson attack] but are abstaining from putting them on trial in order to not expose intelligence sources in court,” Haaretz reported on Thursday, citing a talk Ya’alon gave to young Likud activists. (My translation of the original Hebrew.)

The report offers very few clarifications and there is a sweeping gag order on the entire investigation, but we can draw a number of possible conclusions from Ya’alon’s seemingly deliberate leak.

In the days following the Duma attack that killed three members of the Dawabsha family, Israeli authorities announced they had put three alleged Jewish extremists, two of whom are U.S. citizens, into administrative detention (a tool for imprisoning somebody without trial). The state has never, however, publicly connected those three men to the Duma murders.

One of the three is said to be a suspect in an unrelated arson of a church, and in briefings with journalists, the Shin Bet painted a second man as a ringleader of sorts without making any direct connections to the violence.

(I asked the State Department to comment on the administrative detention of U.S. citizens at the time. I received the following response from a spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs that I didn’t deem worthy of publication at the time: “We have seen the reports that a U.S. citizen is being detained in Israel. We take our obligation to assist U.S. citizens detained overseas seriously. We stand ready to provide all possible consular assistance. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”)

So we do not know if the three men being held without charge or trial are in fact suspects in the Duma murders. If they are, however, we can presume that Ya’alon was referring to them and the decision not to put them on trial.

A man examines the burnt house of the Dawabsha family during the funeral procession of Saad Dawabsha, in the West Bank village of Duma, August 8, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

A man examines the burnt house of the Dawabsha family during the funeral procession of Saad Dawabsha, in the West Bank village of Duma, August 8, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

When it comes to violent settlers, Israeli law enforcement is notorious for relying more on intelligence collections methods and less on traditional police work. That results in two things: the evidence they collect is often not admissible in civilian court; or authorities are hesitant to reveal their sources in open court at all, so they skip the judicial process entirely.

The problem with choosing administrative detention over a public trial is that it delays — and often denies — justice for the victims, and creates a new injustice as a result. If there is no trial and conviction, the Dawabsha family will never get even a modicum of closure in their unimaginable tragedy. They will not see justice.

If the murderers of the Dawabsha family are known to Israeli authorities but not indicted and tried, it will show that the Israeli government values its “intelligence sources” more than justice.

This case, however, is even more insidious than that. In deciding to use undemocratic tools such as administrative detention — most commonly used against Palestinians — against what the government has termed “Jewish terrorism,” Israeli authorities chose to launch an assault on civil rights in the name of equality. The thing is, a huge gap still remains between the measures Israel is willing to employ against Palestinian terrorism suspects and Jewish ones.

When Israel wants a conviction against Palestinians and doesn’t want to reveal its intelligence sources, authorities have other tools available to them. The state could, for instance, try the Duma suspects in military courts where there is no codified presumption of innocence and only fraction of a percent of defendants are ever acquitted.

Read: Saying goodbye to Reham Dawabsha

Another tactic used by Israeli authorities when they don’t want to reveal their sources in court is to submit secret evidence, which is inherently impossible to defend yourself against. It is extremely rare, if it has happened at all in recent years, that an Israeli judge rules against secret evidence presented by the security establishment.

Relatives of Palestinian baby Ali Saad Dawabsha grieve after he was murdered in an arson attack on a Palestinian house, Duma, West Bank, July 31. 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Relatives of Palestinian baby Ali Saad Dawabsha grieve after he was murdered in an arson attack on a Palestinian house, Duma, West Bank, July 31. 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Even more extreme were the curfews and closures and mass roundups the Israeli army carried out following the murder of the Fogel family, a series of steps that eradicated whatever line once separated investigation and collective punishment.

Of course, neither none of those are solutions here. Jewish terrorism suspects should not be treated like Palestinian terrorism suspects; the civil rights of all suspects should be held to an even higher standard, and adjudicating justice in open court should always be the highest priority.

If the Israeli security services do indeed know who is responsible for the murders of Reham, Ali and Sa’ad Dawabsha, they should be arrested and convicted in a court of law. Anything less would show that justice is not the government’s priority.

Newsletter banner

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Ben

      My guess is Bibi and Ya’alon are under severe pressure by settler and national religious big shots to avoid trial and conviction and long incarceration of Jews. One does not imprison god’s holy lords, one works out an arrangement ==> make a big fuss but in a few years at most they quietly go to house arrest then community service and geographical restrictions. On the down low. All the “equality of detention” is a sham. Jews will never ever be treated to the harsh round ups and inhumane conditions and torture that Arabs are. Yigal Amir marries and has conjugal visits under deluxe conditions while people write books idealizing him and making excuses and agitate for his release. Arabs can’t even visit their children in prison.
      It’s apartheid.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Not quite as bad as what his royal holiness practices. Abbas insists on the prisoner release of Palestinian terrorists who murder Israeli children in exchange for pretending to negotiate with Israel.

        Reply to Comment
      • Jason Kidd

        Hey Weiss you fascist, Your rambling on is merely Arabic propaganda. You are blinded by simple minded hatred not facts. Get an education before you spout imbecilic ideas.

        Reply to Comment
    2. bluto

      Prosecuting the Duma Pricetaggers would TOPPLE the Netanyahu Apartheid government – this is the Israeli government’s only possible way out WITHOUT toppling the Settler regime

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Good point.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          What about Abbas? Is that a good point too? Or is it just to be ignored? “The peace maker” who wants to see child murderers to go free.

          Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            Good point.

            About Abbas and how he protects child murdering terrorists.

            Reply to Comment
      • Jason Kidd

        Note that Bluto is aka Weiss.

        Weiss is a fascist.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Note that Jason Kidd = Panama = L. A. Raider = Sluggo = 100 other trivial swishy right wing California-lite narcissistic fashionista personas (one is reminded of John Galliano more than anyone else) who go around accusing others of using aliases when they’re not enthusing about restaurants to die for. It does not get more surreal or more risible.

          Reply to Comment
          • Jason Kidd

            Your micro aggressions are causing an unsafe environment for the free exchange of ideas. Lol. That’s what Palistinian students say whenever they walk past a Sukkah on campus. But it fits you as well.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “ideas”? LOL!

            Reply to Comment
          • MuslimJew

            “Note that Jason Kidd = Panama = L. A. Raider = Sluggo”.

            Good spot, Ben. Please also note that:

            Gustav = Kiwi = Tzutzik = Shmuel/Samuel = JohnW = …

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Yes Benny.

            Reply to Comment
      • Jason Kidd

        Weiss also goes by Proud Miza Jew.
        Same person. Same fascist.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          “Lol! Sounds like fun”

          Reply to Comment
          • Jason Kidd

            Now that I have completely broken you and reduced you to mere harassment and trolling, my work with you is done.

            That was easy.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Ah, now, if only I was a Palestinian child, then you’d really have fun, eh? What a creepy little slithering, shape-shifting entity, come out from under his rock to “like” the IDF’s treatment of children. Behold! I certainly couldn’t make up such a malevolent, envious poster boy for sadism and nastiness if I wanted to. You did it all by yourself! LoL!

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            You could and you do Benny.

            You dismiss all Palestinian Arab atrocities against Jewish Israeli children as irrelevant distractions which are off topic.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            No, I just don’t see your quite repetitive listing of such as the *arguments* and *justifications* that you do.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            You mean you want us to be kind in the face of their cruelty?

            Ya know Benny, what you ask is not natural. At best, you have the right to ask BOTH SIDES, us AND them to moderate. But to ask ONLY us? Nah!

            Unless of course you are the type of person who practices what he preaches. What would you do if your neighbors in suburban NY would say to you that they hate your guts and that you have no right to exist in their neighborhood. Would you meekly pack your bags and move? And what if the same thing would happen in the new neighborhood that you move to? Would you move again? Would you ever make a stand and say, nah, this is where I live, this is my home and if people don’t like it they can lump it? When would you reach that point Benny? Would you ever reach that point? Or would you just give up, agree with those who hate you and quietly do yourself in?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            No, I did not say that. What I said was, “I just don’t see your quite repetitive listing of such as the *arguments* and *justifications* [for the 48-year ongoing occupation] that you do.” The 48th Yom Kippur approaches. Abu Mazen has moderated enormously. Regarding my neighbor, I’m not occupying my neighbor’s house, tapping into his water lines, protecting people who burn his trees down, locking his family in the next room while I watch World Cup soccer on his TV, invading his home in the middle of the night for practice, dragging his children away in the middle of the night and threatening them with rape…. Just in case you thought otherwise.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “No, I did not say that. What I said was, “I just don’t see”

            Of course you said it Benny. In fact you are saying it in the very post in which you posted. You are right that you don’t see further than your own nose.

            As for what we do. We do it precisely because of what our neighbors do or attempt to do to us. We make a stand against their hatred of our existence in this neighborhood.

            But what do you do Benny? You cite our stand as evidence of their right to wish us away. You take an ‘effect’ and pretend that an ‘effect’ is THE ’cause’ of their hatred.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            As for me occupying my neighbor’s house and watching his television, yes I would be if my neighbor would use his house to try to ambush me from it and if he would be tossing molotov cocktails at me and my family from his house.

            Yes, if necessary I would take over his house if that’s what it would take to stop him. Yes I would do anything to stop him from trying to harm me and my family.

            Obviously you would just skulk off.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            If any one sentence sums up your “argument,” tirelessly repeated, it’s this: “We do it precisely because of what our neighbors do or attempt to do to us.” And it’s false. You do it to take their land and property from them. That’s it in a nutshell. All the rest is commentary. (And there’s no point in that. As we know by now, it won’t go anywhere.)

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            This is the usual Benny response. He gets cornered by his own arguments then he takes his ball and goes home. In other words, he resorts to assertions.

            Again, yes, we are in the process of taking over a narrow corridor around the green line as a security corridor. Had our neighbors not made war on us relentlessly for the last 100 years, even before our state came into being, we would now have a much smaller country. Would we have wanted more? Of course we would have wanted more of our ancestral homeland back. But for the sake of peace, we would have put up with a smaller state.

            But since our lovely neighbors did not want us to have even an inch of land, we went and took more. Get it, Benny? Their war on us, CAUSED us to take more. CAUSE and EFFECT.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “we are in the process of taking over a narrow corridor around the green line as a security corridor”

            A patently false assertion, with respect to the corridor’s intrinsic purpose and with respect to the limits of Israel’s actual appetites and intentions. I mean this is not something your ruling parties even try to hide.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Which bit of the following don’t you get Benny?

            “But since our lovely neighbors did not want us to have even an inch of land, we went and took more. Get it, Benny? Their war on us, CAUSED us to take more. CAUSE and EFFECT.”

            Hey if they make war on us for land (all of it they want). We may as well go for broke particularly if it improves our security.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I understand you very well, Gustav. “Their war on us, CAUSED us to take more.” Wow. A classic Gustav statement. A real gem. Why do you shuck and jive like this? Why don’t you just come out with your real right wing “we went and took more” agenda? You inched a little bit more out of the closet here. Why beat around the bush so? You and Bibi are two peas in a pod:

            Netanyahu can talk with Abbas, he just doesn’t want to

            http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.676076

            “In his meetings with European leaders, including last week in Britain, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was willing to resume direct talks with the Palestinians — without preconditions and immediately. But in Israel, in his conversation with hunger-striking women near his home, he added preconditions: Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the demilitarization of Palestine.

            And on the eve of the March 17 election, Netanyahu said that under his watch a Palestinian state would never arise, so what’s the meaning of his willingness to resume negotiations? What will he negotiate on? . . . “

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            BEN:”Netanyahu can talk with Abbas, he just doesn’t want to”

            Can he? Netanyahu says he wants to talk. Abbas says he doesn’t want to talk. Yet Benny says…

            “I ain’t listenin’. Reality is what I want it to be.”

            Benny reverses reality.

            PS
            What Netanyahu said during the elections.

            He recognized reality. He reassured his more strident coalition partners whom he needed to form government, that given Abbas’s stance, they need not worry about a Palestinian state. He told them not to rock the boat on account of something that is highly unlikely to happen because Abbas is stubbornly refusing to negotiate let alone sign a peace deal.

            But you know what Benny? If Netanyahu is lying, Abbas could easily expose him. He could…

            Sit down and negotiate…

            Maybe even agree to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people…?

            And if after that Netanyahu would still dig his heels in, Abbas and people like you, Benny, might have more of a leg to stand on with regards to your claims about Netanyahu. Not before.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            What does recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation state mean?

            It means that after 100 years of trying to prevent a Jewish nation state by waging relentless war, Abbas would clearly renounce that policy.

            He is not willing to do it? It means that he still did not give up his goal to destroy the Jewish nation state.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            That is an eccentric and frankly manipulative meaning that you attach. That’s what it’s means? Why? Because you say so? To you it might mean that. To others it might mean Abbas should formally acknowledge and approve entrenching existing Jewish supremacism and discrimination against Arabs inside its future borders, whatever they turn out to be. (I mean, nothing in the way Israel has manipulated other understandings would make anyone worry it might seize on such an acknowledgment in that way, right? I mean Abbas has every reason to trust those Israelis, right? LoL.) Plainly, Abbas could put in writing an entirely satisfactory reiteration of the permanent renunciation of violence he has already made quite clearly. All these “worries” you profess to have could be clearly addressed in a binding final status accord without ever having to eccentrically attach that to a need to “recognize Israel as the Jewish Nation State.” (As you know, this was not a problem with the Egyptians, with whom you, surprise, surprise, made a fair deal.) Netanyahu’s invented tactic in the service of his admitted ruse strategy. Abbas “policy” is two states side by side living in peace. That fiend!

            Does your Jewish Nation State Ethnocracy mean this?:

            Noam Sheizaf (in The Nation): “The Palestinian problem is a human rights problem disguised as a diplomatic problem; this was Israel’s greatest success, making it look like a geopolitical issue . . . I think one of the reasons I am writing in English is that I fear Jewish American liberals betrayed Israeli liberals. Jewish American liberals are not on our side. . . . [Most Americans] will only support my liberalism to a certain degree. When I fight for the right of an Arab woman to become a doctor, you will stand by and donate to the New Israel Fund. But if I say ‘Jerusalem is an apartheid city,’ which it is—Jerusalem is the worst place in the world in terms of citizenship laws—American liberals get goosebumps.” When told that use of the word “apartheid” often just shuts down the conversation, Sheizaf replied, “The problem is that you then shut down reality…. it is important to be in context. I don’t use apartheid just as a slogan. In the West Bank you can say the situation is temporary and there is a Palestinian Authority, but we have annexed Jerusalem and have declared it to be our country forever. But we did not annex the people. Jerusalem has a population, two-thirds of which has every right and one-third without any rights. How is this not apartheid and ethnic segregation? So invent whatever word you want.”

            Or does it perhaps mean this?:

            “Striking Arab Christian schools protest outside Israeli Education Minister Bennett’s home. Parents want state to increase funding, which has been slashed in recent years….”

            Or this?:

            “Israel’s Chief Rabbinate blasts ‘spiritually dangerous’ interfaith event in Jerusalem
            Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef say even though International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem are friends of Israel, the event undermines the state’s Jewish character….”

            How would Israel’s record so far convince anyone to justify signing off on recognizing it as a novel 21st Century Ethnocratic State?

            Are you willing to consider ANY alternative to the “Jewish Nation State” pre-condition to negotiations? If not, you write yourself off as an extremist.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            What was your lecture to me about grievance mongering Benny? Let me quote you…

            BEN:”You traffic in victimhood, grievance collecting and hard contempt for the people of the other side.”

            Your post is full of it and as usual, you skip OUR grievances towards them.

            As for my “eccentric” take on what recognition of the Jewish nation state by Palestinians would mean, there is nothing eccentric about it. Even blind Freddy would see it only thick skinned Rhinos like you, Benny, deliberately miss my point. Here it is again…

            Your “peace loving” Palestinian Arabs have been waging a 100 year war against us in which they openly claimed that they want to prevent the existence of the nation state of the Jewish people.

            They claim, and you claim on their behalf, that they now changed? That they no longer have anything against the idea of a Jewish nation state along side 22 Arab Muslim states? Ok, then, it should be a simple matter for them to formally recognize the Jewish nation state. They don’t wanna? Ok then, that says everything about their real intentions.

            Oh but wait, Benny cries that the idea of a majority Jewish state is tantamount to an ethnocracy. That’s just a dandy argument, not! He conveniently forgets to mention that under that definition all the other countries of this world are ethnocracies.

            Ah but wait, says Benny, but the idea of a Jewish state is racist. And that makes Benny a racist cos as I explained to him the last time we had this discussion, we insist on a Jewish majority state precisely because we were subject to racism as minorities, for 2000 years during our exile. So to claim that we are the racists because of our reaction to historic racist persecution against us, yes by Arabs too, is perverse and racist in itself.

            The last time, I said this to Benny, he put his hand on his heart and he declared that he is not against a Jewish majority state. But it seems, he did not really mean what he said. How unusual. He likes to argue in circles…

            PS
            The UN must favor religious racist ethnocracies too. Why am I saying that? Because in their GA resolution 181 which passed by a two third majority in 1947, they voted for a Jewish state and an Arab state. Yes, they used the word “Jewish State”!

            Reply to Comment
          • ROFLMJAO

            “Netanyahu said that under his watch a Palestinian state would never arise”

            The poor persecuted dear. From your Haaretz link:

            “In Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to the UN General Assembly, he’ll see the Palestinian flag flying among those of the nations of the world. Instead of useless fighting against international recognition of the Palestinians and the powers’ agreement with Iran, Netanyahu should use his speech to present a vision to resolve the conflict.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Cut the charade Benny dear. I posted two posts so you change your name, run away from my points and post drivel. Address my posts, be a man you little coward.

            ROFLMJAO, my arse!

            Reply to Comment
    3. ROFLMJAO

      “If the murderers of the Dawabsha family are known to Israeli authorities but not indicted and tried, it will show that the Israeli government values its “intelligence sources” more than justice.”

      When has Israel ever shown that it values justice, Michael? Even for Jews?

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        SOCK PUPPET:”When has Israel ever shown that it values justice, Michael? Even for Jews?”

        When the Palestinian Arabs and their leaders like that “peace maker”, Abbas, offer justice to Jews.

        Right now, their norm is to demand the release of terrorists who murdered Israeli children in exchange for PRETENDING to negotiate. But when their demand is rejected, they say… “Ok then, we won’t negotiate…”.

        Then along comes the Bennies and other assorted sock puppets and they say, “Netanyahu refuses to negotiate”. How can one take such clowns seriously?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Click here to load previous comments