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'I witnessed a whole system of deception regarding the death of a Palestinian'

A testimony from an anthropologist who conducted research in the Israeli Forensic Institute.

Professor Meira Weiss, an anthropologist at Hebrew University, was interviewed on Channel 10 as part of a story on Professor Yehuda Hiss, who served as the head of the Israeli Forensic Institute between 1988 and 2004. Weiss observed the work at the institute for six years (1996-2002) for research purposes. Her findings were recently published in a book titled Over Their Dead Body (here is a review in Hebrew).

Channel 10’s investigative reporters, Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz, probed Weiss on the reports provided by the institute to the military and security services. Here is a transcript of the part of the interview, which deals with reports that were “necessary” (in Weiss’ words) for the authorities:

Vilnai: … for example, torture by the Internal Security Service [Shin Beit] is something that needed hiding, and his [Professor Hiss] reports could help.

Weiss: For example […] I witnessed a whole system of deception regarding one Palestinian. The IDF version was that he wanted to shoot them [the soldiers] and he was shot on his front side of his body. The Palestinians claimed that he was killed later on. In other words, there are two versions, meaning one needs to decide.

Meroz: Like the ‘Bus 300 affair.’

Weiss: Exactly like that. Despite the fact that everyone saw… meaning that it was clear from the autopsy that it was an entry wound from behind, it wasn’t emphasized and was silenced.

Vilnai: Someone asked them to silence it?

Weiss: I don’t think so. This is obvious. It is obvious that we the Israelis don’t want it to be known that he [the Palestinian] received a bullet to the head because it means that it took place later.”

Here is the full report on the Forensic Institute. The part quoted is at 20:05.

(h/t John Brown)

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    1. The good news is that this report aired on television, which suggests that the internal social censor of mass media has weakened some.

      Things like this are always latent under authority, for there is a tendency to protect perceived comrades in struggle, even when of some other division. Once it begins, coworkers are afraid (for their livelihood) to buck the trend. An at war ideology, which is also likely to be revved up among public order officials, lowers the threshold for tampering with evidence/witnesses further.

      The question now is whether an independent prosecutor will be assigned.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Various bodies (UN, HRW, etc.) assert from time to time that Israel does not inwquire in a credible way into what are alleged to be crimes committed by ISDF soldiers (and border police, etc.)

      This story makes lying by forensic invesetigators appear to be so entirely routine that ALL (the few) reports purporting to be independent investigations into such alleged crimes come into doubt.

      The idea that the perversion of justice is routine in Israel seems obvious even before reading this story. At what point does such a point of view pass from surmise or mere prejudice into fact?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ken Kelso

      Did Prof Weiss talk about this?

      PA TV Celebrates Most Murderous Terror Attack in Israeli History.
      PA TV celebrated the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, in which 13 Israeli children and 25 adult civilians were murdered, with an hour-long special.
      Gil Ronen

      Palestinian ambassador brags that PA security forces carried out most 2nd intifada terror attacks
      Sunday, November 17, 2013

      Abbas honors mastermind of Munich Olympics massacre
      Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
      July 6, 2010

      PA TV honors Sbarro pizza shop terrorists
      Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
      Sept. 4, 2011
      PA TV host sends “best wishes” to “our glorious” prisoner who transported suicide bomber to attack that killed 15, including 7 children.

      PA TV Glorifies Terrorists Responsible for Maalot Massacre
      PA TV broadcasts a tribute to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, responsible for the 1974 Maalot massacre.

      PA Official: ‘If We Had a Nuke, We’d Use It This Morning’ (Video)

      The Palestinian Authority doesn’t need rocks, firebombs, guns and suicide bombers. Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub has a better way to kill Jews: “If we had a nuke, we’d use it this very morning.”
      Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu
      May 9th, 2013

      Abbas in 2005: Prisoners were following PA orders to kill
      by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
      Oct. 29, 2013
      Abbas in 2005: Release all prisoners
      including murderers
      because it was the PA who sent them to kill

      Abbas: “I demand [release of] prisoners
      because they are human beings,
      who did what we, we, ordered them to do.
      We – the [Palestinian] Authority.

      Arab Lawyers Union Honors Terrorist who Killed 21 Israelis in Haifa
      October 18, 2012

      The Palestine Committee of the Arab Lawyers Union recently bestowed its “highest honor” on female suicide bomber Hanadi Jaradat, who killed 21 Israelis in a 2003 attack on Maxim’s restaurant in Haifa, Palestinian Media Watch reported on its website here.

      Jaradat, who worked as a lawyer, also injured 51 Israelis in her bombing of Maxim’s. The lawyers union “created the ‘Martyr Hanadi Jaradat plaque of honor’” for her, according to an Oct 14 report in the Palestinian daily publication Al-Ayyam.

      A delegation “conveyed to the family of Martyr Jaradat the good wishes of the head of the Union, Mr. Omar Al-Zayn… and also emphasized the pride of the Arab Lawyers Union for what their daughter had done in defense of Palestine and the nation.”

      Abbas’ Fatah Tells Palestinian Kids To Emulate PLO Terrorist – Names Football Games After Him – PA TV Says All Israel Is ‘Palestine’
      By: Morton A. Klein
      May 18, 2010

      PA holds military funeral for former Fatah terrorist who murdered 14, injured 60
      Ahmed Abu al-Sukkar, a former Fatah prisoner, was involved in the horrific 1975 ‘refrigerator bombing’ in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. Palestinian Fatah members carry their weapons as they take part in a parade.
      Palestinian Fatah members carry their weapons as they take part in a parade.

      The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday held a military funeral for Ahmed Abu al- Sukkar, a former Fatah prisoner who was involved in the 1975 “refrigerator bombing” in Jerusalem’s Zion Square.
      Fourteen people were killed and more than 60 injured in the terror attack.

      Fatah honors arch-terrorist by proudly listing his 61 murders
      Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
      July 25, 2013
      Fatah glorifies terrorist Abdallah Barghouti as “brave prisoner” because he prepared the bombs for suicide terror attacks that:
      – “killed 15 Zionists” at Sbarro restaurant
      – “killed 11 Zionists” at Moment Café
      – “killed 15 Zionists” at Sheffield Night Club
      – “killed 9 Zionists” at Hebrew University
      – “killed 11 Zionists” at the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall
      Fatah continues to follow Palestinian Authority policy documented by Palestinian Media Watch of honoring terrorists, among them Abdallah Barghouti.

      A picture glorifying 5 of the suicide bombings that Barghouti prepared explosives for and which killed 61 “Zionists” was posted by the administrator of the official Facebook page of the Mobilization and Organization Commission of Fatah. Terrorist Barghouti was honored as the “brave prisoner” and his attacks as “self-sacrificing activity” and “Martyrdom-seeking operations.” “Martyrdom-seeking operations” is the Palestinian euphemism for suicide bombings.

      Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences for preparing explosives for terror attacks in which 67 people were murdered – Sbarro restaurant (15 killed, Aug. 9, 2001), Sheffield Club (15 killed, May 7, 2002), Moment Café (11 killed, March 9, 2002), triple attack at Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall (11 killed, Dec. 1, 2001), Hebrew University (9 killed, July 1, 2002), and Bus 4 in Tel Aviv (6 killed, Sept. 19, 2002).

      Following PMW’s exposure of the visits this past May by PA TV to the homes of terrorist Barghouti and two other arch terrorists who between them are serving 166 life sentences, PA TV criticized PMW saying they are not terrorists but “heroes” and attacked PMW for calling them “terrorists”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        It’s good to see that the hasbara HQ is now sending out stuff that can be copy/pasted directly into comments. This is much more brushed up with few grammatical mistakes, no incendiary racism and nice formatting.

        I’m glad to see the tens of millions of tax shekels going to good use.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Bar

      May be true, may be untrue. At minute 30 the doctor denies something this woman claimed a little earlier about a hierarchy of bodies. The segment you’re quoting was also heavily edited and signifies that she came across the information second hand. If true, clearly this would be illegal, but this clip wasn’t convincing.

      Reply to Comment
      • I’d say the question, Bar, is whether the story deserves an independent prosecutor. I do not know how a statute of limitations runs in Israel, or whether State crimes fall under it. The ultimate decision of the Attorney General to not inquire into final responsibility for the deaths of the Nazareth 13 for evidence decay over time makes me wonder if prosecutorial investigation is even possible.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Don’t be ridiculous. A sitting PM left office and is currently on trial in the state of Israel.

          As to whether this story requires a special prosecutor or not, I don’t know enough to comment. This short reporting segment had a lot of dramatic music and nice shots and editing, but the reporting itself was far from comprehensive. It wasn’t even a complete he said-she said scenario.

          Reply to Comment
          • I take this to mean that you could see a way to a special prosecutor.

            Israel clearly policies is own on internal Jewish matters, using Jewish broadly. In fact, I view the failed trial of Lieberman as an attempt by administration to reign in a maverick member of the coalition government. There seem to be “don’t go too far” rules which bring in life bureaucrats, as in many States. I recall also the case of Rabin’s wife.

            However, there is good reason to think that outside of this internal policing things go differently, the Nazareth 13 a possible example. Since the bodies in the present case are pre-defined as enemy combatants of some form (true or not), there can be considerable resistance to opening a prosecutorial “can of worms.”

            There was a recent case in California where police where confiscating cars owned by Hispanics and selling them on the sly, stopping them for some reason, then saying their car had to be impounded, drivers never seeing it again. The area was rather rural, and for a few years the local police got away with it; Hispanics had stories, but they were poor, and, well, Hispanic, and had no money to fight back (and charity legal services are overstrained). Eventually, however, I believe the county attorney moved forward on the case. Under multiple jurisdictions it is harder to hide things overlong, for some prosecutors are more likely to see an opportunity and cannot be silenced.

            I provide this story for a second reason. This scam occurred absent all threats to the general peace, yet survived for a few years. When security fears are much more real, as in Israel during some of the worst bombings, much, much more can go overlooked, especially if the violations were made “to protect the State and Jewish People.” Similarly, lack of prosecution in the occupation is expected.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Bar

      I’m an advocate for there to be strong and fair laws and that the police/government uphold those laws and do so consistently. I understand that sometimes things happen in the heat of war/battle and there is a reasonable desire to protect those who put themselves on the front lines, but ultimately people need to believe they are answerable to authorities.

      However, there are also potential abuses on the prosecutorial side. Lieberman is an excellent example. I assume he’s innocent because they investigated him for a million years and came away with nothing. The investigation, though, ended up stifling him and if it was led by political opponents, then they essentially succeeded in quashing a legitimate choice made by voters. I should add that Olmert is in somewhat of a similar position where if he walks away absolved of all charges, one has to ask whether he was brought down from his legitimate position unfairly and against the will of the populace.

      As for this case, if there is reasonable cause to investigate, then investigate. This particular news-piece did not convince me.

      Reply to Comment