State-sanctioned murder: The Bus 300 Affair

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (Press Release)


Majdi Abu Jumma, a suspect in the 1984 Bus 300 hijacking, being
led to his death by Shin Bet officers. (Photo: Alex Levac)

"I smashed their skulls," [on orders from Shin Bet head Avraham Shalom, and] "I'm proud of everything I've done." [Yatom said he put the men on stretchers into a van.] "On the way I received an order from Avraham Shalom to kill the men, so I killed them." (1996) "I acted for the security of my country." (2001) ~ (Shin Bet officer) Ehud Yatom

General Attorney of Israel refuses to disclose file of the Bus 300 Affair

Wednesday, 06 November 1996

In a letter dated 8 September 1996, the Attorney General of Israel disregarded a request by the Palestinian Centre for full disclosure of the case file of the Bus 300 affair.

Interest was revived in the Bus 300 affair following the 26 July 1996 publication in Yediot Ahronot of an interview with Ehud Yatom, a former agent in Shabak (Israeli Security Services), which introduced new evidence that had not been previously disclosed by stating his direct involvement in the extrajudicial killing of Subhi and Majdi Abu Jamea.

In his testimony, Yatom stated that Subhi & Majdi Abu Jamea were severely beaten by security forces and civilians, including current Minister of Defense Yitzak Mordechai, following their arrest for participating in the hijacking of Bus No. 300. Approximately one hour after being taken into custody, the men, suffering from serious bodily injuries, were handed over to Yatom and other Shabak agents. While in transit from the site of the arrest, Yatom received, according to his confession, an order from Abraham Shalom, Head of Shabak, to execute the two prisoners, which Yatom states he did immediately. Yatom added in his testimony that he engineered nothing in the affair, or any other activities conducted by the Shabak which would be considered by most people as inconsistent with traditional moral values.

On August 24th 1986, Yatom received a pardon from former President of Israel Chaim Herzok. Considering the contradiction of the testimonies Yatom provided to the Bus 300 investigation committee and to Yediot Ahronot, it appears that the Presidential pardon given to Yatom and other Shabak agents was based upon falsifications and suggests a cover-up of actions by intelligence bodies who have conducted systematic extrajucicial killings against many Palestinians in the past.


Shin Bet officer Ehud Yatom (ret.)

Following the publication of Yatom’s interview with Yediot Ahronot, and in possession of power of attorney for the families of the victims, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights sent a letter dated 19 August 1996, to the Israeli Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of Justice, and the Attorney General requesting full disclosure of the Bus 300 case file, a copy of Yatom’s request for pardon, and the release to the public of all information related to the case. On 21 October, having not yet received a response to its request, the Palestinian Centre sent a follow-up letter to the same officials.

On 31 October, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights received a response from Advocate Gideon Sa’ar, Assistant to the Attorney General of Israel, dated 8 September-- 53 days after it was sent via regular mail from Israel. The contents of the letter directed to Raji Sourani were as follows:

The Attorney General has read your letter dated 19/8/96, and the relevant material, and has asked me to respond to you as follows.

The Presidential pardon granted to Mr. Yatom, dated 24/8/96, states that Mr. Yatom is pardoned in relation to “...all his offenses related to the events that occurred on the night between the 12th and 13th of April 1984, and that are known as the bus 300 affair, which he described in his request for pardon in 10/8/86.”

Since Mr. Yatom’s request included the acts which brought about the death of the terrorists, the Presidential pardon covers those acts as well, and it is impossible to make him accountable for it.

In light of this letter, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights concludes the following :

1) The Israeli resply in the above letter does not respond the Palestinian Centre’s requests.

2) The Israeli response disregards the fact that Yatom publicly introduced new information contradicting the evidence upon which the pardon was granted, a fact that necessitates the pardon be voided and re-examined by the courts.

3) The Israeli response is a clear attempt to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the death of Subhi and Majdi Abu Jamea after the men were taken into custody by Israeli security forces.

4) The Israeli response is an attempt by the legal bodies of Israel to cover crimes committed by individuals of state security bodies and to pardon them from responsibility and accountability for their illegal actions.

Accordingly, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights declares that it will continue its legal efforts on behalf of the victims’ families to disclose the file of the Bus 300 affair and to ensure that the killer, Ehud Yatom, and all others involved in the case, are brought before the court.

___________________________________________________________________________________

The photographer, Alex Levac, wrote: “I’m returning here to my infamous Bus 300 photo, in which one sees – obviously alive and well – one of two Palestinian hijackers whom the Shin Bet security service claimed had been killed during a hostage rescue. I wouldn’t think of bringing the subject up again if it hadn’t been for the changes in Israeli attitudes toward the Palestinians over the last 25 years. The photo shocked the country in 1984 because it was proof of the lies and criminal acts of the security apparatus. Who would respond these days with the same powerful emotion to the murder of two Palestinian bus hijackers as we did in those innocent times when every injury to a Palestinian, not to mention a killing, led to an investigation? Since then, mutual hatred has only worsened and summary executions have become routine. We have long become insensitive to death, of Jews as well as Palestinians”.

The photographer ended with these words: “A short philosophical remark is in order here about the essence of photographs. The power of this photo lies in what it doesn’t show, the moment after, the moment when skulls were smashed, an act former Shin Bet agent Ehud Yatom later admitted to. The moment of the unbearable lightness of death”.

“[T]he thought that evokes the greatest sadness is whether we can say with certainty in 2009 that the Israeli media is the watchdog of democracy”. [Un-Truth]
___________________________________________________________________________________

PCHR: Special Report: Senior Israeli Intelligence Officer, Ehud Yatom, Reveals Extra-Judicial Killings Of Palestinians By Israeli Security Forces [3 August 1996]
BBC: Court blocks Sharon appointment [27 December, 2001]
Sydney Morning Herald: Notorious brothers brush aside scandal and crimes in race for power [December 14 2002]
Haaretz: End of the line for Bus 300 [14.06.10]
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H/T: Lal Qila
URL: http://www.a-w-i-p.com/index.php/2010/11/26/state-sanctioned-murder-the-300-affair

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