Jerusalem, 18 October 2001

Death of Bethlehem Tanzim commander Atef Abiyat in "work accident" while presumably under PA detention
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Reports regarding the "work accident" death of Atef Abiyat are astonishing in light of the fact that in reports by both the Palestinian Authority and its own security chiefs, including at PA Chairman Yasser Arafat’s recent meeting with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and in security meetings that have been held in recent weeks, it was claimed that Atef Abiyat was in detention.

Israeli security officials believe that Atef Abiyat was engaged in preparing a car-bomb for a terrorist attack inside Israel.

Atef Abiyat was the Tanzim commander in Bethlehem, responsible for the deaths of five Israelis and the wounding of four more in dozens of attacks. Abiyat was also responsible for mortar fire and shooting at the southern Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and Malha, and personally took an active part in this shooting.

Israeli security officials believe that Abiyat was involved in a long series attacks, chief of which were:

1. Shooting at an IDF vehicle at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem on 2.4.2001 in which Sgt. Danny Darai was killed.

2. Shooting at an Israeli vehicle in the El Khader area on 2.11.2000 in which Tzachi Sasson was killed.

3. Shooting at an IDF force near El Khader on 1.11.2000 in which Lt. David-Hen Cohen and Sgt. Shlomo Adshina were killed.

Abiyat was known as "Commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade" in the Bethlehem area.

It should be pointed out that Israeli security officials have information that Atef Abiyat had – before his supposed detention by the PA – been planning to escalate attacks against the State of Israel.

It should be noted that Israeli security officials have recently claimed that the PA has been plying the US and European countries with mendacious reports regarding Palestinian counter-terrorism. The death of Atef Abiyat – who was "being detained by the PA" – in a "work accident" constitutes additional proof of this.