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Sunday, 6 October, 2002, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
Israeli Arabs on trial for bombings
From the left: Wassan Abassi, Alaa Abassi, Mohammed Odeh, Waal Kassem
The four defendants are Jerusalem residents
Four Arabs residents of Jerusalem have gone on trial, accused of helping suicide bombers carry out a string of attacks in Israel earlier this year.


We want a sentence of death for the murderers of our children

Father of bombing victim

Thirty-five people were killed and more than 200 injured in three bombings in Jerusalem and near Tel Aviv.

There were angry scenes as relatives of the victims shouted abuse at the four, as the trial opened in Jerusalem.

Correspondents say the case has drawn particular interest as the four accused hold identity cards the Israelis give to residents of East Jerusalem, allowing them to move more freely than other Palestinians.

Charged atmosphere

The four - Waal Kassem, Wassan Abassi, Mohammed Odeh and Alaa Abassi - are being tried in connection with the attack against a cafeteria in Jerusalem's Hebrew University in July, in which nine people died, and the bombing of Jerusalem's Moment Cafe, which killed 11 people in March.

Police also accuse them of assisting a suicide bombing by Hamas of a pool hall in Rishon Letzion near Tel Aviv, in which 15 Israelis died in May.

Attack on the Rishon Letzion pool hall on 7 May
The Rishon Letzion social club was gutted
In addition, the four are accused of trying to blow up a tanker in a fuel refinery outside Tel Aviv - an attack which Israeli security experts say could have killed thousands of people if it had succeeded.

"Most of the targets were chosen by members of the Jerusalem cell and were based on a familiarity which came from working in and moving about in Israel," an Israeli security official said earlier.

Scuffles broke out at the start of Sunday's hearing, as relatives of the victims shouted abuse at the defendants.

"We want a sentence of death for the murderers of our children - children who were just having fun and nothing else," said a man whose son was killed in a suicide bombing.

Neither the accused nor their relatives responded to the abuse.

Judge Yaacov Tsaban warned the victims' relatives that he would insist on absolute silence during the trial, and expelled one man who continued shouting.

The accused did not enter a plea.


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