An Israeli rabbi has sparked outrage by calling for the release of an extremist Jewish terrorist who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering three members of a Palestinian family in a 2015 arson attack.
Rabbi Tzvi Kostiner, the head of the Midbara K’Eden Yeshiva, a religious school in southern Israel, said in a video that Amiram Ben Uliel, the convicted killer, was a victim of “one of the greatest injustices” by the Israeli judiciary. He claimed that Ben Uliel “didn’t do anything, but even if he did — come on, accept him.”
Ben Uliel was found guilty of three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder for setting fire to the home of the Dawabsha family in the village of Duma, southeast of Nablus, in the occupied West Bank. The attack killed Riham and Saad Dawabsha and their 18-month-old son, Ali Saad. Only their eldest son, Ahmed, who was four years old at the time, survived with severe burns.
The arson attack was widely condemned as an act of terrorism by Israeli and international leaders. It also sparked protests and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank.
Kostiner, who is known for his radical views and support for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, said that Ben Uliel should be released and vindicated, or at least be transferred to a special jail ward for religious Jews with better prison conditions. He also accused the Israeli authorities of torturing Ben Uliel during his interrogation.
The video of Kostiner’s remarks was posted online by an Israeli activist group called Honenu, which provides legal and financial assistance to Jewish extremists accused or convicted of violence against Palestinians. The group has been representing Ben Uliel and another suspect who was charged with being an accessory to murder.
The video has drawn criticism from Palestinian officials and human rights groups, who denounced Kostiner’s statements as incitement to violence and hatred. They also called on the Israeli government to take action against him and his yeshiva.