Salem - Interrogation of Witness, Terror Attacks

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Revital Sella (reporting)

Translation: Marganit W.

Cross-examination of police investigator in the Jamal Tirawi hearing [see earlier reports: Salem 24.1.10 and 17.2.10]

"The Interpreter is Translating for You"

"If you and Jamal are not interested, I can order you out. The interpreter is translating for your benefit, the others don't need it." Thus the judge scolded the Tirawi brothers, who spent the first half of the day conversing on both sides of the court. In their defense, I can testify that I, too, had a hard time keeping my eyes open during the first interrogation. Captain Faraj presented a bunch of police statements and repeated the same questions again and again: Describe for the court the atmosphere during the interrogation. What language was used? Etc. During the second phase he asked: Here it says X, but in court the witness said Y, what can you tell us about it? So the investigator said that the witness lied in court and his testimony was baseless, that the statement was obtained, written and signed of his own volition etc. It is interesting to note that Arabs are liars by definition UNTIL they incriminate other Arabs, then every word is written in stone and is the gospel truth.

Check and mate, or maybe not

Defense Attorney Merav Houri demanded the court be presented with a corpse before deciding who murdered whom (maybe) . For now this is only a rumor, an allegation - the court does not recognize the death certificate issued by the Authority. If it does, the court will have to recognize other documents of the Palestinian Authority, something that the court is reluctant to do. Thus, the only proof of the murder of the man - a collaborator -  that Tirawi is accused of ordering the murder, is testimony by the father of Muayed Mansour, Witness No. 26, who allegedly buried him. The father claims that he is threatened by the Tirawi family and therefore refuses to testify in court: "They threatened that if I expose what happened to my son and claim he is innocent, they'll burn my house down and will hurt my daughters." This is from his interrogation at Hawara. He was subpoenaed but did not show up, possibly because the prosecution knows it cannot protect him. Check and mate? Apparently not. We saw how pliable the rules are, and in this case, too, there will be a way to bend them a little. At any rate, at this stage, the court ordered both sides to present their arguments in writing, based on Paragraph 10 a and b, which deals with the refusal of a witness to testify, or when a witness cannot be located or is dissuaded from testifying.

A New Interpreter, a Redhead

In the long interval foisted on us, I was impressed by his Arabic and by how fast he familiarized himself with the procedure. "I'm an Arab," he explained. This is the new interpreter, a Christian Evangelist, whose parents are ‘internal refugees' from Nazareth. He grew up in Kiryat Eliezer and studied at the Carmelit school. He volunteered to serve in the army because he believes in the continued existence of the Jewish state. He told me that there are 420 people like him every year. Israeli Arabs, he claims, feel that, compared to other countries in the Middle East, they are better off. After half the Palestinian population was evicted in 1948, and wealthy Palestinians who had connections left [like many Jews, let me add], after the Druze and the Beduins were co-opted by Israel, those who stayed are more Zionist than I am. So maybe we can now retire the "demographic danger" argument?

The Price of Being Late

At my left, the Druze prosecutor is having a heated discussion with the defendant's brother - in Arabic, of course, what else? At my right, Atty. Houri is talking with the defendant - in Arabic, of course. I am in the middle, the only Jew in the area, who never learned enough Arabic to follow the conversation. As usual, the judges were late coming from lunch, but the order to bring in the defendant and his family was duly carried out. It soon became apparent to the dutiful soldiers that there was something surreal about that picture which disproved the accepted narrative about security risk. Thus, they requested an order to take the Palestinians (who are neither Druze, Beduin or Evangelical volunteers) out of the court. Their request was presumably granted. Needless to say, while they were arranging this, there was no hint of weapon in the court.


"You are not conducting an independent investigation: the GSS order the arrests and interrogate before you. You're not the first to get an admission from the accused. You merely rewrite what the GSS wrote, you don't investigate." Thus began the cross-examination by the defense attorney. It was finally getting interesting: the private conversations stopped and I woke up. I will cite two examples to illustrate the attorney's point. Both are taken from the investigation focusing on the main charge against Jamal Tirawi - sending a suicide bomber to a café in Tel Aviv in 2002.

Surprise No. 1 - Herzl said

"In regards to Abu Leil's statement, you insist that he was staying at Rawash's house 4 days before he was arrested with the defendant. He claims that he said that there were 4 more people there, not 4 days. Why do you insist? Maybe the question was "Were you?" But you wrote down "You stayed" and this is the source of the mistake? Why should Abu Leil recant his statement at this point? The explanation, sir, is that in the GSS memorandum, ‘Herzl' wrote: "slept 4 days at Rawash's" and this is how it trickled down to the police investigation. Let me tell you, that the same memo alleges that Abu Leil testified that they had 4 guns, and with surprising coordination your statement makes the same claim. How come he made the same mistake in your report and in that of the GSS? We have a report by the soldiers who seized the weapons which included: 3 guns and 1tear gas grenade , 2 Belgian guns, 1 Jericho plus a gun belonging to Firas.

Surprise No. 2

"You were assigned the investigation of three men involved in this case at a certain time: Riad Abu Saris, Fadi Fahmi Bakri and Sirhan Alan. Abu Sris testified that during a ride with the suicide bomber, Ala and Jamal Tirawi called the suicide bomber's cell phone to get an update. Sirhan Alan said in his interrogation that Abu Saris told him that he had kept the cell phone of the suicide bomber as a souvenir. Did you request the phone to check the incoming calls?" Evidently, it was convenient to presume that the phone perished with the bomber, but investigations have yielded that this may not be the case; one of the passengers in the car said he had kept the "incriminating"(?) phone. This line of investigation was lost in the maze of police "investigation" which is a re-writing of the GSS memo. Apparently, Herzl did not say anything about this.


"Perhaps you can give me an answer that no police officer to date has been able to supply," Atty. Houri challenged the witness. "Given the identification of the statement taken by the police with the memos on which the police bases its investigation, who needs the police?"

Her Honor Judge Dalya Kauffman told Atty. Houri that she'd be happy to answer her. Maybe if we behave, we can hear it too.

Continuation of the Defense 28.2.10

I had to leave the court a little after 4, before the conclusion of the hearing. I wish I could have stayed, it was so intriguing.

Last Sunday, February 28, Rachel H. and I attended the session when the defense continued its argument in Jamal's case. We were not allowed to remain in the courtroom, as GSS men were being interrogated in camerainfo-icon. Atty. Houri told me the following day on the phone, that on 14.3.10 the hearing would be behind closed doors until the interrogation of the GSS investigator would be over.

Jamal Tirawi will probably appear as a witness on 21.3.10