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Prosecution appeals acquittal of minors accused in infamous ‘hate wedding’

  • October 14, 2021

State prosecutors on Thursday appealed against the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court decision last month to clear four Jewish minors of incitement to terror over their participation in a 2015 wedding where revelers celebrated the murder of a Palestinian baby.

In documents filed at the Jerusalem District Court, prosecutors claimed the magistrate’s ruling was the result of a “faulty analysis” of incitement offenses and “has serious errors that led to the decision to acquit the minors.”

The wedding was “a unique case in its severity, exceptional in its intensity” and  “clearly amounts to an offense of incitement to violence,” prosecutors wrote in the appeal filed by attorney Oshrat Shoham.

Prosecutors told the court that the suspects “hailed with song and dance the murder of the Dawabsha family in a terror attack.”

The state asked that the four be convicted of the crimes they were charged with and that the court instruct the lower court to sentence them.

The acquittal of a fifth minor was not mentioned in the appeal.

Footage from the so-called “hate wedding” aired by Channel 10 news in 2015 showed dozens of far-right guests celebrating by mocking a deadly firebombing attack on a Palestinian family, waving guns, knives and a mock Molotov cocktail.

Revelers were seen holding and stabbing a photo of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death in the July 31 firebombing at his family’s home in the West Bank village of Duma. His parents, Riham and Saad Dawabsha, succumbed to their injuries in the aftermath of the attack. His brother Ahmed was the sole survivor, but suffered severe injuries.

In filing the appeal, prosecutors also rejected the judge’s accusation of what he deemed selective enforcement compared to other incitement cases where individuals were not charged.

Such claims, prosecutors said, are “full of errors.” They maintained that in cases of offenses related to expression, the prosecution and law enforcement act “in a careful and non-discriminatory manner,” independent of the ideological affiliation of the suspect.

Juvenile court judge Shimon Leibo ruled September 1 that there was not sufficient evidence to convict the five suspects of incitement to terror and violence, explaining that “the element of awareness required in incitement offenses was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The names of the five, who were minors at the time of the alleged offense, have been placed under gag order.

Leibo said that the minors’ participation in the dancing could not necessarily be interpreted as support for harming the Dawabsha family. He also noted their age and the fact that some of them were drunk.

The video drew widespread outrage when it aired, and Leibo indicated that the prosecution had been swayed by the media coverage to pursue the case.

“Considerations that are normally used to close other cases and not even to open an investigation were not used here, even though there were a number of them,” he wrote at the time.

“The main consideration against the defendants is the media consideration,” the judge wrote.

Eight adults have been charged over their participation in the wedding and the case against them is still ongoing.

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