Photo Credit: Yossi Aloni/Flash90
Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Sonn Har Melech

Last September, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Amiram Ben-Uliel who was convicted of murdering three members of the Dawabsheh family in Duma Village in 2015. Ben-Uliel was convicted in 2020 and sentenced to three life sentences plus 17 years, following which he appealed the conviction because his confession had been obtained illegally.

The district court threw out two of Ben-Uliel’s confessions because they were given under torture, but accepted a third confession which served as a key piece of evidence against him in his trial.


Justices Yitzhak Amit, Yosef Elron, and Shaul Shohat unanimously rejected Ben-Uliel’s claim that he was interrogated under torture by the Shin Bet, and therefore all the confessions extracted from him and his subsequent reconstruction of the crime are inadmissible.

On Monday night, 300 people participated in a conference titled “Saving Amiram Ben Uliel” with speakers Jonathan Pollard and Otzma Yehudit MK Limor Sonn Har Melech, among others. The conference dealt with supporting Ben Uliel who has been imprisoned in isolation for some eight years and getting him better conditions, as well as trying to free him altogether based on the doctrine of fruits from the poisonous tree.

But MK Sonn Har Melech also said, with tears in her eyes that she visited Ben Uliel and referred to him as a Tzadik and a saint {Tzadik kadosh). And that statement was a juicy slab of fresh meat to the social networks’ wolves.

MK Sonn Har Melech said, “I do not support a murderer, I know he is innocent. If I stand by and watch how he is being abused – I will be an accomplice to the crime. There has never been a prisoner who spent eight years in solitary confinement, cut off from people and the world. There is something hidden there, a big lie, an injustice.”

She was incorrect. In addition to many prisoners in US maximum security prisons who live out their lives in solitary confinement (According to a 2023 report from Solitary Watch and Unlock the Box, more than 6,000 individuals have been held in isolation for more than one year over the past decade), there was also Yigal Amir, PM Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, who spent the years 1994 to 2012 in isolation.

When the MK’s statement was attacked by the mainstream media, she tweeted: “Yes, I believe that Amiram Ben Uliel is innocent and that his confession was obtained through torture that no one would have been able to endure. And if you want proof of persecution, look at the insistence on keeping him in solitary confinement for 8 years, an unprecedented sanction.”

Ben Uliel May Be Released from Solitary Confinement

Amiram Ben Uliel at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, March 7, 2022. / Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Otzma Yehudit Chairman MK Itamar Ben Gvir Attacked the court’s ruling last year, saying, “Today there is no dispute that Ben Uliel’s confession was given after he was interrogated under torture and this is a case of abject injustice. The laws of the State of Israel require the rejection of the confession, but unfortunately, the Supreme Court justices ignored this or did not give any real weight to this conduct. The Supreme Court ruled that he was tortured and instead of setting him free and issuing a logical ruling, the court sent him to three life sentences. It’s a black day for democracy.”

The investigation of the Duma arson/murder case was rife with irregularities on the part of the Shin Bet, which was the reason the same court dropped the charges against Ben Uliel’s co-defendant, a minor, because of the use of torture during his investigation, as well as other aggressive methods. But in Ben Uliel’s case, the judges noted that “our impression of the defendant and his behavior showed that there is no risk of a false confession here. His confessions to the investigator were authentic. The defendant was able to identify the window where a second incendiary bottle was placed and was able to identify characteristics and hidden elements.” They further stated that “it is not possible to determine whether there was an additional operator based on evidence found in the scene.”

“Concerning tire and shoe tracks – the overall impression did not lead to clear findings,” the judges concluded. “It is impossible to suggest that this was not an event with a racial background according to the defendant’s perceptions. There was suspicion that he was a member of an organization, but not beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Attorney Yitzhak Bam, who represents Ben Uliel along with Attorney Asher Ohayon, said: “After the court had accepted the confession and the reconstruction of the crime that were given under the influence of torture, the conviction was only a matter of judicial acrobatics that mediated the confession with the conflicting evidence discovered in the field. Once the court overcame the acrobatic task, it opened our path to appeal to the Supreme Court for the very acceptance of a confession given under torture.”

But, believe it or not, this story has a happy ending: Attorney Adi Keidar from the Honenu Legal Aid Society announced last week that the Israel Prison Service is contemplating removing Ben Uliel from solitary confinement to the religious ward. The IPS has already granted Ben Uliel a temporary move to the “Torani” section for the High Holidays, and Keidar suggested the move could become permanent.

Ben Uliel spent the past eight years under extremely harsh conditions in the Eshel prison in the south. He stayed in a maximum-security wing, in a solitary cell, without meetings with other prisoners. He is only allowed to leave the cell for about two hours a day to a closed yard by himself. His family is allowed to visit him once every two weeks for about half an hour, speaking through a glass partition. He was forbidden to go to the synagogue and participate in prayer services and was allowed to keep only five religious books in his cell.


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