- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

TEL AVIV Marwan Barghouti, second only to Yasser Arafat in popularity among Palestinians, defiantly shouted that "the intifada will win" yesterday as he was indicted on charges of killing more than two dozen Israelis during two years of violent uprising.
The first civil trial of a high-profile Palestinian politician opened in a chaotic Tel Aviv courthouse, where Mr. Barghouti was brought handcuffed and wearing a brown prison uniform.
"The intifada will win," the leader of Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement shouted in Hebrew to reporters who packed the sixth-floor courtroom of the Tel Aviv District Court building.
"Security will be achieved by one way by peace," added Mr. Barghouti, 43, who was twice brought into the court and then dragged away by police when he began speaking to journalists. "And peace will be achieved by the end of the occupation."
The morning proceeding took less than 30 minutes before Judge Tzvi Gurfinkel adjourned the trial until Sept. 5 to allow Mr. Barghouti's legal team to study the indictment.
Though Mr. Barghouti did not enter a plea, he suggested that his strategy would be to reject the legitimacy of the proceedings and turn the trial into a political grandstand.
As Israeli prosecutors detailed the eight-page indictment, he interrupted and shouted, "I want to bring an indictment. I have a long indictment of 50 clauses against Israel for the bloodshed of both peoples."
The prosecution hopes to use the trial to show that Mr. Arafat and his top aides are directly responsible for terror attacks on Israel. It says Mr. Barghouti personally directed the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Tanzim, two armed branches of Fatah that have carried out suicide bombings and shootings against Israeli civilians and soldiers.
The indictment cited 37 attacks that killed 26 persons and wounded scores. If convicted, Mr. Barghouti could face life in prison.
Jawad Bulous, an attorney for Mr. Barghouti, said his client would not use a defense attorney if the Israeli court decides to proceed with the trial. The defense argues that Mr. Barghouti enjoys immunity as an elected Palestinian legislator.
"Our position is that we will not recognize the competency of the court to try Marwan," he said. "We are trying to show the whole world that Israel is violating international law."
Mr. Barghouti is the most-senior figure to be arrested by Israel during the 23 months of fighting. Soldiers nabbed him April 15 in Ramallah during the army's three-week offensive throughout the West Bank.
The arrest has already boosted Mr. Barghouti's standing among Palestinians. Some 19 percent of respondents in a May public-opinion poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research named him the most popular Palestinian. In December, Mr. Barghouti's rating was at 11 percent.
"He is trying to position himself as one of the leaders of the Palestinian people," said Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian commentator. "He is saying that this is about the crux of the conflict. He's saying if he's guilty of anything, he's guilty of fighting for the independence of Palestinian people."
Mr. Barghouti, often mentioned as a successor to Mr. Arafat, used the court appearance yesterday to reiterate his support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He has already spent six years in Israeli prisons and was once deported to Jordan before returning to the West Bank in 1994.
Israel chose to put Mr. Barghouti on trial in a civil court rather than using a military tribunal in part to bolster the legitimacy of the proceedings, a government official said.
"The trial will be as fair as possible, as open as possible, as public as possible," said Jacob Galanti, a spokesman for the Israeli Justice Ministry. "We're not interested in a political trial. He'll be judged the same as any other terrorist."
In July, two Palestinians who Israel says functioned as Mr. Barghouti's deputies were also indicted in Israeli civil courts.
Dvora Chen, the leader of the prosecution, told Israeli radio that the case is based on evidence from interrogations of Mr. Barghouti's subordinates as well as documents seized during a raid of his Ramallah headquarters.
"One can't ignore the fact that the main objective of the trial, from both sides, is to convince not only the court in Tel Aviv, but to convince the court of world public opinion," said Moshe Negbi, an Israeli legal commentator.
In the West Bank yesterday, Israeli forces killed a wheelchair-bound Hamas militant leader when they shelled a house in the village of Tubas and flattened it with a bulldozer, Reuters news agency reported.
The man was identified by Israeli and Palestinian sources as Nasr Jarrar, 44, head of Hamas' wing in the Jenin area of the northern West Bank.
The Israeli army said Mr. Jarrar, who lost both legs and one arm while preparing a bomb a year ago, was planning suicide bombings and a "major terror attack" aimed at bringing down a multistory building in Israel.
Troops surrounded the house where Mr. Jarrar was staying and used loudspeakers to order people out. After several people left, tanks opened fire, Palestinian witnesses said.
Abdel-Aziz Rantissi, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, vowed that the Islamic militant group would avenge the killing.

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