Yair Netanyahu, son of the Israeli prime minister, has attracted strong criticism in Israel for retweeting a crowdfunding legal appeal for a convicted Jewish terrorist.
On Monday, Lod District Court gave three life sentences to 26-year-old Amiram Ben-Uliel, who murdered a Palestinian family, including an 18-month-old baby, Ali Dawabsheh, in an arson attack in 2015. The firebombing took place in the West Bank village of Duma.
The Dawabsheh parents — Riham and her husband Saad — died of their injuries in the attack. Their four-year-old son, Ahmad, was the only survivor of the arson carried out by Ben-Uliel, who was a member of a loose-knit collective of young settlers calling themselves “the Hilltop Youth”. They had been involved in frequent clashes with Israeli border police and the army over attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank.
The court said Ben-Uliel’s actions were “meticulously planned, and stemmed from the radical ideology he held, and racism.” It said the punishment was “close to the maximum penalty prescribed by the law.”
But Ben-Uliel’s wife, Orian, told reporters after the sentencing that “the judges didn’t seek justice or truth. They decided to incriminate my husband at any price.” She said the family would appeal to Israel’s Supreme Court. Nevertheless, Shin Bet agents said Ben-Uliel had confessed to planning and carrying out the attack, and that two others were accessories. They said he claimed the arson was in retaliation for the killing of an Israeli by Palestinians a month earlier.
Yair Netanyahu, however, has rejected this confession. In tweets following the sentencing, he backed a crowdfunding campaign, which called the trial “a despicable libel”, in support of Ben-Uliel’s appeal. He went further and said that Ben-Uliel’s confession was obtained by Shin Bet using “physical torture in the most medieval fashion you can imagine.” A social media critic described the younger Netanyahu’s action and support for Ben-Uliel as “surreal and indescribable”, not least that he tweeted from Washington DC, while his father was due to sign a peace deal with the UAE and Bahrain on Tuesday.