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Prime Defendant Confesses in Sabotage Trial

July 29, 1971
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The prime defendant in the sabotage trial of five French citizens retracted her not guilty plea and confessed to a Lydda military tribunal last night that she had planned to carry out “demonstrative acts” of sabotage in Israel. Evelyn Barge, 28, believed to be the leader of the sabotage ring, said she joined an Arab terrorist organization because she felt the Palestinians were being hurt by Israel. She insisted that her planned acts of sabotage were not intended to cause injury to anyone. According to the charges against them, Miss Barge and two sisters from Casablanca, Nadia and Mariene Bardali, intended to plant explosive charges in various public places in Israel. They were to have picked up the explosives from an elderly French couple, Pierre and Edith Burghalter who arrived in Israel last April 9 with explosives concealed in their clothing.

The Bardali sisters confessed earlier to charges of illegally transporting explosives. They were arrested at Lydda Airport on April 11 when a search of their baggage yielded explosive devices. Miss Barge testified last night that she was supposed to have picked up a transistor from the Burghalters in which activating devices were concealed. The Burghalters so far have not confessed to the charges against them. They allegedly received $1,000 for bringing explosives into Israel. Miss Barge has been linked to aerial hijackings and various acts of sabotage aimed at Israeli installation in Europe while working for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The military panel trying the case consists of three Army officers, one of them a woman. She is Lt. Col. Zeeva Levi. Her fellow officers are Lt. Cols. Abraham Frisch and Yoram Fried.

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