- The Washington Times - Friday, October 4, 2002

JERUSALEM Palestinian firebrand Marwan Barghouti had a dramatic confrontation with a grieving Israeli father yesterday as he was led handcuffed from a police van into a Tel Aviv courtroom for his third court appearance since his arrest in April.

"You killed my son, my daughter, Sharon, and my daughter's husband," the angry father yelled into the face of Mr. Barghouti, 43, the most senior Palestinian official to be put on trial in two years of the intifada.

"The intifada will end the occupation," replied Mr. Barghouti, who as leader of the Fatah-Tanzim forces in the West Bank is accused of masterminding the murder of 26 persons and of heading the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

He was confronted throughout the hearing by parents of some of the nearly 500 Israelis killed in the uprising including Tsveri Zion, 52, whose son, son-in-law and daughter died in a shooting attack on a road between Jerusalem and the Jewish community of Modi'in in August last year.

"He paid the money 6,000 shekels to kill my children," Mr. Zion said.

Mr. Barghouti's prosecution is based largely on documents seized by the Israelis when they raided Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters in April.

Some of those documents, which were widely distributed to the news media, bore what appeared to be Mr. Barghouti's signature and asked for 8,000 shekels about $1,600 to be given to each of a list of wanted men in the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

First, however, the court must rule on Mr. Barghouti's contention that he has immunity from prosecution as a member of the Palestinian legislative assembly.

"My client was kidnapped," said his attorney, Khader Shkeirat, citing a 1995 agreement that Israel would not arrest anyone in areas under Palestinian self-rule without first approaching a joint legal committee.

Israel argues that the deal did not apply to acts of terrorism and in any case was abrogated by the start of the armed uprising.

Mr. Barghouti argued for the first time yesterday that any actions on his part were political and not criminal because the territory claimed by the Palestinians for a future state is "under occupation."

Interrupting the court proceedings, he yelled, "We will be victorious over the occupation" before being led away making victory signs with his shackled hands.

Supporters of Mr. Barghouti meanwhile distributed copies of their own "indictment" accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

One of Mr. Barhgouti's attorneys, Shamai Liebowitz, 32, an Orthodox Jew, told the court his client was a "latter-day Moses," noting that the man who led the Israelites out of Egypt first killed an Egyptian slave-driver.

Judge Tsvi Gurfinkel sardonically pointed out that Moses had spared those in the slave-driver's vicinity. Adjourning the case until Nov. 21, he advised the defense to focus on legal arguments "and not on any comparisons with what happened 3,000 years ago."

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