Palestinian Authority Diary
20 April 1998
"Who killed Muhyideen Al-Shareef?", part 1
Photo: The wreckage after the bombing, from the Jerusalem Post. 
Click for the JP article.

During the unraveling events following a fatal explosion in Ramallah on 29 March, the subsequent identification of the charred remains as Hamas military wing number two, Muhyideen Al-Shareef and onwards to the arrest and supposed confession of Birzeit student Ghassan Addassi, the feeling remains that something here is just not quite right.

The foundation on which we are invited to accept what has been announced of the Palestinian Authority's case against Ghassan Addassi is that a previously unreported Hamas "feud" has been gradually gathering steam these last months, boiling around the question of whether or not to carry out suicidal attacks against Israel.

Photo: Ghassan Addasi, reproduction by Nigel Parry

Addassi (right), alleged to be one of six members of an Izadeen Al-Qassam military cell headed by Muhyideen Al-Shareef, is supposed to have plotted with another member of the cell, Adel Awadallah, to kill Shareef.

This seems implausible enough to raise doubts. Despite the PA's history of mass arrests and torture of its members, Hamas has resisted lifting anything more than a microphone in response.

How less likely is it to kill one of its own over a dispute over tactics?

Senior PA officials have been widely reported by released detainees to be personally involved in interrogations during these last weeks.

Photo: Jibril Rajoub at the press conference

It was Preventative Security Service (PSS) head Jibril Rajoub who initially announced on 6 April (right) that Ghassan Addassi was in custody and had confessed to killing Al-Shareef. According to Ghassan's family of 12, half of whom have been arrested and interrogated, and friends, Ghassan was with friends all day and returned to the family home from the time of the first evening prayer call (around 6:20pm) until the time of his arrest at 11:15pm, during the time of the incident and would have been seen in the area by numerous other people during two short trips to the mosque next door.

His neighbourhood is located on the other side of town from the site of the explosion. One of Ghassan's friends that spent the day with him, Ahmad (name changed), reported to me that he felt that the PSS did not really want to hear his testimony that he was with Ghassan making election posters up at Birzeit University from around midday until 6:00pm.

Had Addassi been involved in the disposal of Shareef's body in the Beitounia garage, point out his family, he would have been knowingly destroying his family's uninsured carpentry workshop, an event that has left his father with as yet unpaid loans on the workshop amounting to $22,000.

The family is also alleged to have rented an apartment to Shareef, whom they deny ever meeting. The twelve of them live in a four-room house that they swear is their only property, and say they literally have no space nor inclination to rent to anyone. This surely is an easy-to-disprove assertion for the Palestinian Authority, which has promised an open trial, if it is untrue.

Photo: Mrs. Addassi tells the story in her home

Mrs. Addassi reported to me that, "My relatives called me and told me, 'They've written something about you in the Jerusalem Post, that Ghassan's father has rented a place to Muhyideen.'"

"This is our house! We have no other house but this house. Where would we put him? We have ten children! With me and their father, there are twelve of us! There's two rooms here. Here's the living room, that is my and my husband's bedroom. Upstairs is the daughters' bedroom and the sons' bedroom. That's it! Where would we put him?

I told them that Issam is 25 years old and he is still not married. We have another son who has been engaged for a year and we can't marry him because there is no place to put them. The priority is to give to our sons not to someone else. There's just not enough room for us, why would we bring strangers into the house that we've never seen before who have never seen us before?"

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