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Fatah's Apology -- Drenched in Blood By: Ha'aretz
Ha'aretz | Monday, March 22, 2004

Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade published a statement yesterday apologizing for the killing of 20-year-old George Khoury on Friday night.

Khoury, a Christian Arab and the son of well-known veteran attorney Elias Khoury of Beit Hanina, was shot to death from a vehicle at around 7:30 P.M. while jogging in the north Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill. He was hit twice in the head, once in the neck and once in the stomach.

Alfred Cohen, a neighborhood resident, said: "I heard the shots, and from my window I saw the young man collapse. I was at his side in a few seconds. I tried to stop the bleeding from his head wound. He tried to say something but he couldn't. I was sure he was from the neighborhood, because I've seen him running here before."

The police immediately began a search for the vehicle that Cohen saw leaving the scene, and which was apparently headed for the nearby neighborhood of Issawiyeh.

Khoury, who was declared dead on arrival at Hadassah University Medical Center, Ein Karem, was carrying no identification, and had only the keys to his car in his pocket. The police tried the keys on several cars in the area, and finally located Khoury's car on nearby Bar Kochba St. They were then able to identify the victim and notify his family.

Khoury's father said that George, his middle son, would drive from their home to French Hill a few times a week to jog.

The Khoury family hails from the village of Majdal in the Galilee, on the ruins of which the town of Migdal Ha'emek was built. The family still owns land in the area, and has lived in Jerusalem since 1969.

Elias Khoury gained fame in the 1970s when he led a legal battle against Sebastia and Eilon Moreh settlers. His father, Daoud Khoury, was killed, together with 12 others, in 1975, when a booby-trapped refrigerator placed by Fatah exploded on Jaffa Road in the capital.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades issued a statement saying that the killing of Khoury was a case of "mistaken identity," and that they thought Khoury was a settler. The statement also said that from the point of view of the organization, Khoury was a shahid (martyr).

"The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are individuals who are trying to impose their way on everyone," Elias Khoury said. "This is a barbaric act that will not change my world view, which includes deep faith in Palestinian rights. This act was carried out by a group that undermines the issue of Palestinian justice, and harms the Palestinian interest and takes it back years."

In veiled criticism of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, Khoury added: "Fatah today is a crumbling movement that has no leader. The chaos in the movement does not help the Palestinian cause. I hope that this case will awaken the Palestinian public from its tranquillity to say its word."

Arafat's bureau called the Khoury home twice Saturday to apologize for the murder.

George Khoury, a graduate of the Anglican International School in Jerusalem, was a student at the Hebrew University. His funeral will take place today in the Christian cemetery on Mount Zion.

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