A bus burns where a car bomb exploded at Beit Lid junction near Netanya, September 9, 2001.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Lt.-Col. (res.) Alon Eviatar, who led 50 IDF intelligence officers in a unit focused on Palestinian terrorism, testified for the plaintiffs in the terrorism case against the Palestinian Authority in Manhattan federal court on Thursday.
The court and the plaintiffs explained to the jury that Eviatar, with 15 years specializing in Palestinian affairs, would cover what he called the PA’s “revolving door policy” in loudly arresting and then quietly releasing terrorists.
Eviatar discussed how he founded and served as head investigator of a unit specializing in the civilian affairs of Hamas in the West Bank. “We identified strong connections between the civil apparatus of Hamas and the terror apparatus of Hamas,” he said.
Dozens of survivors of terrorist attacks may testify in a trial expected to last up to three months.
The defense denies the allegations and says that any PA employees involved in terrorism acted on their own.
The former intelligence officer talked about the relationships between the PLO, the PA, Fatah, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, and most important, between the PA and Hamas.
The defense raised strident objections to the plaintiff’s expert witness explaining the joint obligations of Israel and the PA to provide security set forth in the Oslo Accords.
“I move for a mistrial,” said defense counsel Mark Rochon.
He said he assumed the plaintiffs were going to introduce political issues into a personal injury trial.
US District Judge George G. Daniels overruled the defense’s objections, waving off the movement for a mistrial and explaining that the Oslo Accords were already in evidence.
A centerpiece of the plaintiffs’ case is that the PA supported Hamas terrorist attacks not only ideologically but also by providing weapons, money and logistical support.
Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center director Nitsana Darshan- Leitner said, “Eviatar is testifying that the statements and terrorist attacks which were perpetrated by the employees of the Palestinian Authority were carried out to further the defendants’ official policy of using violence when the peace process stalled.”
Plaintiffs’ trial lawyer Kent Yalowitz said Eviatar’s testimony would show that the “official policies enacted by the PA into law” had “directly supported and encouraged the terror apparatus.”
The defendants continued an aggressive strategy of objecting regularly to the plaintiffs’ questions and evidence, likely to throw off the plaintiffs’ rhythm and to keep out various evidence on substantive grounds.
Earlier, the PA’s defense lawyers cross-examined another plaintiffs’ expert witness, Nick Kaufman, trying to minimize the importance of his testimony about IDF court judgments against PA employees by arguing that he had not been an IDF prosecutor, but an IDF judge, and had not been present for all of the cases he was discussing.