Barghouti Gave Orders to Terror Groups With Arafat's Silent Approval, Israeli Documents Reveal

Records surface of the 2002 Shin Bet investigation of former Fatah leader who was jailed ten years ago; investigators pressured Barghouti to provide them with the 'smoking gun' against former Palestinian PM Arafat.

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Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti had confessed during his investigation with Israel's Shin Bet to giving instructions and money to the Fatah terrorist groups that murdered Israeli citizens.

Barghouti, who was arrested ten years ago this week, gave the Shin Bet extensive details of Fatah's modus operandi during the second intifada and connected between then Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and the terror attacks. Records of the Shin Bet investigation of Barghouti in April-May of 2002 will be published in Haaretz Week's End on Friday.

Jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti appearing in court in Tel Aviv in 2002.Credit: Archive / AP

Barghouti is serving five consecutive life sentences and an additional 40 years for his part in the terror attacks. In every public opinion poll in the West Bank, Barghouti stands out at the most popular Fatah official and as a leading candidate to take over the position of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

The records of the investigation, which were revealed during judicial proceedings that are now taking place and related to civil-damages suits filed against Barghouti and the Palestinian Authority, offers a rare chance to decipher the way the intifada developed.

After some hesitation, Barghouti provided the Shin Bet information that incriminated him and other senior members of Fatah's military wing. He confessed to transferring funds, some that arrived from Arafat's office, to leaders of the terror groups. In some incidents he funded the purchase of weapons and in others he received reports on the terror attacks.

In one incident – the shooting attack in which an Israeli citizen was killed near Givat Ze'ev – Barghouti confessed that he ordered the attack as revenge for the assassination of a senior Fatah official.

As to Arafat, the investigators were eager to get a "smoking gun" that would indicate that he gave clear instructions for terror attacks in Israel. Barghouti claimed that Arafat hinted his policy to the activists, who well understood his intentions, but said that the former Palestinian premier never gave direct orders to carry out terror attacks.

Barghouti said during his investigation that he chose to take part in the terror attacks against the Israel Defense Forces and settlers, among other things to bolster his reputation among public opinion in the West Bank. He said his decision was to give him priority over other leaders, who "didn't dirty their hands."

Barghouti said he opposed "gifts" from Israel and said, that, "A state should be established (on its own) and part of the process is bloodshed."

In two of the last investigations recorded in the documents, that took place on May 10 and 11, the investigators pressured Barghouti to give up information on Arafat. Barghouti responded, "But from the very fact that Arafat expressed opposition to carrying out attacks inside Israel, had he been opposed to the armed struggle inside the territories against the occupation, he would have made sure to transmit a specific order about that to all those involved."

The investigators continued pressuring Barghouti. "I explained to the subject that until he tells the truth about Abu Amar's (Arafat) part in launching attacks, his interrogation won't end."

Barghouti responded, "There was no need for direct instructions from Arafat. Things were understood between the lines. When Arafat would call for a cease-fire, he would convene the heads of Tanzim and instruct them and add that if the cease-fire were to end, they knew what they would have to do, when it was clear to everyone that he was talking about a continuation of military activity."

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