Car Bombs Were Meant to Kill, Police Expert Testifies

The lethal devices planted in the cars of three West Bank Arab mayors in June, 1980 were intended to kill them, according to a police expert testifying at the trial of two former officers of the Israeli military government on the West Bank.

Eli Ben-Bassat, a former chief superintendent of police who headed the anti-sabotage laboratory at national police headquarters, was the chief withness for the prosecution Friday at the trial of Maj. Shlomo Levytan and Capt. Ronni Gila. Both officers have been linked to the Jewish terrorist underground active on the West Bank over the past four years but are being tried separately from 22 other men under indictment.

Explosive devices were placed in the cars of Mayors Bassam Shaka of Nablus and Karim Khallaf of Ramallah, both of whom were seriously wounded. Shaka lost both his legs. A third bomb, in the car of Mayor lbrahim Tawil of El Bireh, exploded while being defused, blinding an Israeli Druze police sapper, Sulieman Hirbawi.

According to Ben-Bassat, all three devices were activated by trip-wire mechanisms. Each contained up to 500 grams of explosives. Ben-Bassat testified that judging by the size of the devices and the way they were placed, they could have been fatal. His testimony contradicted the statements given to the police by the terrorist suspects who claimed their intention was only to wound the mayors.

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