Marwan Barghouti is “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian,” said the New York Times at the end of Barghouti’s op-ed on April 17th. Following the uproar that this description caused, the NYT editor added a note: “This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.”
The truth, of course, is quite different from what the NYT editor added. In fact, Barghouti was the leader and commander of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the key terror component of Fatah that carried out many terror attacks throughout the Second Intifada. He was also the leader of the umbrella organization of the Islamic and national forces, which oversaw the entire range of terror activity during those years, and served as coordinator between the different organizations. Barghouti was also responsible for inciting violence and terror before the Second Intifada (for example, during the eight days of violence and terror throughout the West Bank in mid-May 2000).
According to the court at his trial, Barghouti operated under the direct command of Yasser Arafat and was beyond any doubt directly responsible for murderous activity. He was convicted of terror attacks that were performed following his direct orders, in which 5 people were murdered:
- Yosef Habi (52, from Netanya), Eli Dahan (53, from Lod), and policeman Salim Barakat (33, from Yarka) were killed and many people were injured in an attack at the Seafood Market restaurant in Tel Aviv on March 5, 2002.
- Yoela Chen (45, from Giv’at Ze’ev) was murdered in an attack at a gas station near the entrance to Giv’at Ze’ev on January 15, 2002.
- The Greek monk Georgios Tsibouktzakis (36, from the St. George Monastery) was murdered in an attack on the road between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim on June 12, 2001.
In addition, the court said that Barghouti was morally responsible for many other terror attacks in which many more Israelis were murdered.
Documents captured by the IDF in “Operation Defensive Shield” (April 2002) shed light on Barghouti’s involvement in commanding the terror efforts under Arafat. In those documents, Barghouti asks Arafat to authorize payments to several lists of Fatah terrorists, while he himself was approached by local commanders who asked him to authorize payments to terrorists from their units. The documents include, for example, an urgent request from Barghouti to Arafat to approve payment of $2,000 each to 25 members of the Palestinian Fatah movement.