Future perilous for Gaza collaborators

August 03, 1994|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Jerusalem Bureau of The Sun

GAZA, Gaza Strip -- The two men on the flickering videotape nervously confessed to their captors. For more than two hours, they told how they had killed and kidnapped and conspired against their fellow Palestinians on behalf of Israel.

Sweating and fidgeting, the men told their Hamas interrogators: "We deserve to be killed because we are traitors." Shortly after, they were shot to death.

The tape of the "confession" of the two Palestinian collaborators, obtained by The Sun, is a chilling account of a little explored aspect of the Palestinian uprising against Israel.

There is no way to find out if the two men were truthful either in their confessions or in their details. Hussam Doushen and Abdel-Waheb Rawdi sat unrestrained during the tape, and were served chicken and tea. But Mr. Rawdi had bruises on his head and both men seemed afraid they would be killed by the Muslim fundamentalist group that had captured them.

They said they had been recruited by Israeli intelligence agents. Mr. Rawdi said they lent him money and then pressured him to work for them; Mr. Doushen said another collaborator provided him a woman and then took pictures for blackmail.

They described how they were taken to a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip and trained with Israeli automatic rifles. They began going on missions with the Israeli intelligence agents -- sometimes undercover and sometimes in Israeli uniforms. Eventually, they used the weapons: Mr. Rawdi said he killed 25 Palestinians in seven years.

Both said they recruited other collaborators with money and sex. They said they raped some women, took pictures and then blackmailed the women.

Israeli authorities, asked to respond to the allegations, said no officials would discuss the secret work with Palestinian collaborators.

Collaborators were hated by the Palestinians under the Israeli occupation. But what to do with them now is a problem for the Palestinian authority that took over the Gaza Strip and Jericho in mid-May.

Hundreds killed by Hamas

Hamas killed Mr. Rawdi and Mr. Doushen May 27 and promised similar vigilante justice for other collaborators. Its activists had killed hundreds of other alleged collaborators during the six-year Palestinian uprising.

The new Palestinian Police commander, Maj. Gen. Nasr Yusef, condemned the new killings by "gangs within Hamas" and vowed to arrest the killers. Hamas, in response, agreed for now not to kill any more collaborators. The killers of the two men have not been arrested.

But the Palestinian police, too, have been sullied. In the southern Gaza Strip town of Shabura, two policemen arrested a 28-year-old taxi driver, Farid Jarbou, June 25 -- apparently on suspicion that he had collaborated with Israeli intelligence.

Ten days later, he died in custody. Police officials acknowledged that he was beaten, the first case under the new Palestinian authority of a prisoner who died under interrogation.

"His spine was broken. His hands had been cut down to the bone where he had been tied and hanging. Most of his arms and legs were broken, and there were big marks where he had been burned with electricity," said Mr. Jarbou's bother,Faisal. "His body wasn't like a human."

Sitting in their home in Shabura, family members denied that Mr. Jarbou was a collaborator. They condemned the new Palestinian police.

"Even the Israelis are better than this police," said Faisal Jarbou, 30.

"We suffered a lot in the occupation. This is not what we were promised from the Palestinians," said his mother, Suwaid Jarbou, 50. "If the police can kidnap anyone from the streets and kill them, we are not safe."

3 policemen arrested

To the satisfaction of human rights groups, three policemen involved in the interrogation were quickly arrested by the Palestinian authority, and officials said they will be tried.

"We have not tried to hide the facts or cover up for the suspected perpetrators," said Khalid Kidra, the new Palestinian chief prosecutor. "What happened is a lesson for all of us and we will make sure it will never happen again."

In an extensive study of collaboration earlier this year, the Israeli Human Rights group B'tselem concluded that "tens of thousands" of Palestinians had been recruited since 1967. Israel used all of its authority -- from the granting of work permits to tax collection to arrest and interrogation -- to recruit them, the report said.

Between 700 to 1,000 alleged collaborators were killed by other Palestinians during the uprising, often after being tortured. But B'tselem estimates that only 30 percent to 40 percent of them were collaborators. Others were killed in personal or political feuds or in vigilante justice as drug dealers, prostitutes or criminals.

During the intifada, Israel established two heavily guarded communities -- Dahaniyeh in the southern Gaza Strip and Fahmah in the northern West Bank -- and moved collaborators there who would likely be killed because of their activities.

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