Evidence of System-Wide Anti-Har-Shefi Trend

Ex-Shabak Chief reopens Har-Shefi case by repeating his claim that she didn't know that Yigal Amir would kill Rabin. She was jailed for 5 months.

Hillel Fendel ,

Ayalon, Har-Shefi
Ayalon, Har-Shefi

Knesset Member Ami Ayalon (Labor) reopened the painful Margalit Har-Shefi case by repeating his claim that she didn't know that Yigal Amir wished to kill Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. She sat in jail for not having stopped the murder - but documented evidence indicates initial widespread animosity towards her - or the public she represented - throughout the justice system.

Ayalon, a former chief of the Shabak (General Security Service) who is currently running for head of the Labor Party, told a group of supporters this month that Margalit Har-Shefi did not know of Yigal Amir's plans. "I know of this from intelligence [sources]; I was head of the Shabak," Ayalon told the audience in Ashkelon. "I know that she did not imagine that he would kill the Prime Minister. She was just a part of an insane situation."

Har-Shefi, an acquaintance of Amir's from college, heard him say - as did many others - that the Prime Minister should be killed. Nineteen years old at the time, she was convicted more than five years later of "knowing of a crime and doing nothing to prevent it." She was sent to prison for nine months in March 2001; after her request for parole was turned down in July, her sentence was reduced by President Moshe Katzav, and she was freed in August 2001 - nearly five months after entering prison.

GSS Didn't Suspect a Murder - But Har-Shefi Should Have
When she began her jail term, Har-Shefi stated, "I am being sent to prison today for one reason only: They had to find someone to blame, to cover up for an entire network that fell asleep on the job - as if I, a 19-year-old girl at the time, was the one who could have saved the country from this terrible trauma."

Even Carmi Gillon, who headed the Shabak at the time of the assassination, later wrote that though the Shabak had received reports of threats to kill the Prime Minister, security was not reinforced around Rabin: "We did not believe that a Jew would get up and kill the Prime Minister."

Though Ayalon's latest statement raised some eyebrows and prompted questions as to why he had said nothing until now, the fact is that he did say something in the past. In fact, when President Katzav reduced Har-Shefi's sentence, both Ayalon and Gillon informed him of their opinion that Har-Shefi had been treated unjustly, as she did not know that Amir was planning to murder Rabin.

Ayalon also repeated this point when speaking with Baruch Kra of Haaretz at the time of the pardon.

In Sept 2002, Miriam Rosental, outgoing District Attorney of the Tel Aviv district, said she regrets having indicted Margalit Har-Shefi. Rosental told the Yediot Acharonot newspaper that she differed at the time with Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein and State Prosecutor Edna Arbel: "I felt that we could not place on the shoulders of a 19-year-old girl the entire matter of knowing and internalizing all the serious things that were said before the murder No one imagined that such an extreme thing would happen, and neither did Har-Shefi."

Tel Aviv Magistrates Court justice Nira Lidski, who convicted Har-Shefi and sentenced her to nine months in prison, was known as being a compassionate justice. In an interview two years ago after her retirement, she related to the Har-Shefit case in a somewhat contradictory manner: "As a person, that trial was difficult for me... It was a case with political ramifications... The whole time, I realized that this was a 19-year-old girl; it always was in my head that she was not a criminal, and I am at peace with my decision - not 100%, but 1,000%."

In the same interview, Lidski revealed another side to her judicial and political personality when she was asked what she feels is the country's main problem. Her response: "Violence and incitement. Take this latest example of the blocking of the highway by settlers. This is unprecedented chutzpah. 18 were arrested; I would have arrested 180... I would have asked for 24-hour custody, and in those 24 hours I would have handed down indictments and put them on trial..."

Legal System vs. Har-Shefi
Legal affairs commentator Yair Shapira of B'Sheva notes other examples of the legal system's animosity towards Har-Shefi: Supreme Court Justice Mishael Heshin was heard saying he would "sock it to her" even before he had heard any evidence, and Parole Board Chief retired judge Eli Sharon refused to grant parole because Margalit did not express sufficient remorse.

However, possibly most blatant of Shapira's list is the ruling in 2005 by Judge Tawfiq Katili, head of the Nazareth Magistrates' Court, acquitting Yassera Bakri - an Arab woman from the Galilee - of charges that she failed to stop a terrorist attack. In 2002, Bakri had been sitting on a bus that later blew up near Tzfat, killing nine people; she got off when an Arab man sitting near her motioned her to get off because "it's going to be a mess here." She told another Arab friend to get off as well, and, without calling the police, they took a taxi to their nursing classes in Tzfat.

Judge Katili found Bakri totally innocent, and provided an original explanation as to why the case was totally different than the Har-Shefi case: "There is an essential difference between this case and that of Margalit Har-Shefi. First of all, Har-Shefi wanted the murder to happen [italics added - ed.], while the defendant in this case did not want the attack to happen and was not connected to it... Secondly, Amir was known to Har-Shefi and showed her over a period of time what he planned to do, while in this case, the indications by the criminal were not 100% clear, were done only once, only took a few minutes, and left many doubts in the defendant's heart..."

Questions About the Assassination
Yigal Amir was convicted of murdering Yitzchak Rabin in 1995, and is serving a life sentence in solitary confinement. Among the many who have doubts about the official version of the assassination are Rabin's daughter Dalia Rabin-Pilosoph.  In November 1999, she told a magazine about some of her questions: "Who shouted, 'These are blanks!'? Why didn't the Shamgar Commission [investigating the killing] determine who shouted that the shots fired were blank cartridges?... Why was my mother driven away in a different car when [my father] was driven to the hospital? Why did they tell her that it was an exercise?... Why didn't they kill the assassin?"