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2001-01-11

Israeli Campaign of Political Assassinations Sparks Petition to High Court

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The widow of a Palestinian official gunned down by Israeli troops in the West Bank asked the Israeli Supreme Court on Tuesday to order caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak to halt the army’s policy of assassinating suspected Palestinian fighters.

Thabet’s appeal comes during an intensified shooting war between Israelis and Palestinians and renewed negotiations to find a resolution. Security officials from both sides met in Cairo on Sunday with CIA Director George J. Tenet, with more meetings expected soon.

Siham Thabet argues in her petition that if the army had evidence against her husband, Thabet Thabet, it could have arrested him. The assassinated 40-year-old activist was an outspoken advocate for peace and negotiation and among the first Palestinians to dare to reach out to Israelis during the late 1980s. The shock of his death–delivered by long-range automatic weapons fire outside his home in broad daylight has sparked protests.

In her petition Siham Thabet asks that "the executions without trial, taking ... lives as the result of an operational initiated action and not in the course of war and/or a military action, be declared illegal."

If the Supreme Court accepts the petition, the army could be forced to explain its policy in court. Thabet’s assassination is not an isolated incident, but rather a coordinated high-tech campaign justified by Israel as part of the war. According to the Los Angeles Times, Barak, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh and various army spokesmen have said that the army hunts down those who attack Israelis "and the ones who send them" and that it will kill them when they can be found.

Estimates of those killed by political assassination range form 13 to 31. According to Time magazine, Israel’s security service, "Shin Bet has a list of names of about 100 potential targets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And it has the army’s finest marksmen to call upon when it decides to strike."

Guests:

  • Naila Atiah, Lawyer from Haifa, living in Ramullah. She was hired by Thabet’s widow to file a petition with the Israeli Supreme Court challenging political assassination of her husband.
  • Marwan Dalal, Staff Attorney of Adelah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The organization is committed to advancing human rights and fostering democracy in Israel.
  • Ziad Abo Ain, Palestinian Officer of Fatah

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