Man who claimed to witness Hebron ambush misled authorities

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

JERUSALEM -- An Israeli man who claimed to be a witness to last week's Palestinian ambush in Hebron admitted misleading the media and was nowhere near the gunbattle, which killed 12 Israeli guards and soldiers, police said Monday.

Aryeh Mariner, 40, was apparently at his home south of Tel Aviv when the attack took place in the West Bank city Friday night, police spokesman Gil Kleiman said.

"He has a history of fraud offenses. Our suspicion is that he did this to draw attention to himself," Kleiman said.

Mariner provided vivid and gruesome reports to radio and television, saying he had seen "things that break the heart," including screaming soldiers and dismembered bodies. He said he was close to the family of Col. Dror Weinberg, the military commander in Hebron who was slain in the gunbattle.

Mariner's statements on Israeli radio and television were reported by The Associated Press.

Mariner was arrested Sunday and released on bail, and was under orders not to speak to the media for 180 days. He could be charged with causing a public disturbance, Kleiman said. Officials said it was the first case they knew of where someone lied to the media about witnessing fighting.

He could not be reached for comment, and it wasn't immediately known if he had hired an attorney.

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