- The Boims sue the Israel Minister of Justice in the Israel High Court of Justice to demand that the Israeli government demand the arrest of Amjad Hanawi, the Arab who murdered their teenage son and took refuge inside the Palestime Authority.
Do you know where Amjad Hanawi is?
If you answered yes, then you can provide information to the US State Department; or t the Israel Ministry of Justice. Neither of them have a clue.
For those readers not familiar with the case, both U.S. and Israeli intelligence fingered Hanawi as one of the two murderers of David Boim, a sixteen year-old American/ Israeli citizen who was murdered on May 16, 1996 while waiting for a schoolbus near his Beit El Yeshiva, en route to his home in Jerusalem. After shooting Boim, Hanawi took refuge in the Palestinian Authority, where presumably he expected to receive better treatment than if he remained in an area under Israeli jurisdiction.
Yet according to State Department officials, Hanawi guessed wrong; the PA locked him up.
Last month, Kol Yisrael news, the Israel state radio newsreel, reported that while on leave for a Muslim holiday, Hanawi, perhaps thinking that the PA was not that concerned with keeping him in jail, decided not to return. Upon hearing the report, David’s mother, Joyce Boim, wrote the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, inquiring if her son’s killer was still behind bars. In a briefly worded statement, the US embassy consul assured Mrs Boim that the Palestine Authority had assured the US consul in Jerusalem that Hanawi remained imprisoned.
The story should have ended there. However, the US State Department has been unable to provide any documentary evidence that Hanawi is in fact in jail or that he ever was in jail. A US consular official involved in the case commented that she did not even know which jail Hanawi was in, although she said her Palestinian counterparts had assured her that Hanawi was locked up. When asked if she could provide any records that would prove this assertion, such as an arrest report, a police file, or prison photograph, she declined. Instead, she suggested contacting someone within the P.A., since, she said, this was their concern. The press spokesperson for the US consulate in Jerusalem also could not to provide any documentary evidence of Hanawi’s incarceration, stating that the State Department has been in touch with people in the P.A. on this issue.
When the P.A. was contacted, the P.A. justice and police spokespeople said that they also could not provide any information concerning Amjad Hanawi’s arrest, nor could they provide reporters with visits to the various PA jails to check out the matter first hand.
The US consulate officials responded rather nonchalantly to this development, saying that all countries have their own policies of releasing documents to the press.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has refused to issue any statements on the whereabouts of Hanawi. Spokepeople from the Justice Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, Army, and Police all pointed in different directions, saying they did not possess any information on the subject. A spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office, sounding curiously like my State Department contact, said that Hanawi was the PA’s responsibility, not theirs.
Since the beginning of the Oslo process, Israel has made 37 requests for the transfer of killers from the P.A. to Israel. So far the P.A. has refused to honor any request, stating it prefers to try them themselves, even though this is a violation of the Oslo agreement. Of the 37 suspects, ten are now serving in the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces, despite the fact that Palestinian courts convicted each one of them of attacks against Israelis.
According to Likud Knesset member Michael Kleiner, the current government – learning from the former government’s experiences – has dramatically lowered its expectations about the P.A.’s willingness to comply with Oslo and hand over terrorists. However in the case of David Boim, the government has not even taken the first, elementary step of asking for Hanawi’s arrest. Israel and the United States now appear not only reluctant to pursue this matter, but eager to prevent the public from discovering what happens to Palestinians who kill Israelis.
In early June, David Boim’s father, Stanley Boim, issued his first public statement since his son’s murder, blaming the Israeli government for failing to take any action in the case.
On July 9, 1997, Stanley and Joyce Boim are being given a hearing at the Israel High Court of Justice. The Boims are suing the Israel Minister of Justice and demanding that he order the arrest of the man who murdered their son. As they say to friends and family alike, what happened to their family could happen to anyone, and that unless the Israeli government raises an objection, such a hit and run murder could become a precedent.
While the Israel Ministry of Jutsice gives the impression that it has done everything in its power to pursue the matter, the facts are otherwise. No request has been made by the state of Israel for the arrest of Amjad Hanawi. Moreover, the current Israel Minister of Justice has added no names to the lists of wanted killers that were submitted by the previous Israeli government. The spokesperson for the current Israel Minister of Justice could give no explanation why, for example, the ministry has not asked for the arrest of Muhammad Deif, the Gaza-based Palestinian Hamas leader who planned the abduction and murder of Nachson Wachsman in October, 1994.
Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s Minister of Justice, has stated on countless occasions that he will resign his position and call for an end to the Oslo process if the PA refuses to arrest and hand over killers of Jews who have taken refuge in the Palestine Authority. Yet PA Minister of Justice Freich Abu Medein has made it clear that the PA will arrest none of these killers, let alone hand them over. And Palestine Police Commander Nassir Yusef has told me that he is under direct orders from Yassir Arafat not to arrest Muhammad Deif.
Is that why HaNegbi has not acted?