At the borders of the homeland, the Egyptian soldier Suleiman Khater was present with his weapons .. He was not an invader, and he did not sneak near their paddles or hover behind the frontier, and he did not extend a hand to the fruits of the vines, and he did not set foot on what they say is their land, he just wanted not to be a monster among the mutants. However, “everything shattered in a fleeting moment,” as the poet Amal Dunqul said in his famous poem “Do not reconcile.”
With the sunset of October 5, 1985, the fleeting moment came, after which darkness would prevail, when Sergeant Sulaiman Khater released his rifle towards a group of Israelis trying to bypass his guard point in the Ras Burqa area (South Sinai).
The 24-year-old soldier at the time believed that treaties were concluded between two owes, and that those who exceeded must bear the price, so he surrendered to the authorities a headquarters and believed in what he had done, and he did not know that the bullets would come from behind in the time of peace.
After a year and three months, newspapers published the news of Suleiman’s suicide in the Military Prison Hospital, amid widespread doubts about the way his story ended.
Despite the passage of 35 years, the story of Suleiman Khater remains stuck in the Egyptian conscience, with a question that has no definitive answer: “Who killed Khater?” .. Did he kill him while they were the peer or the boldness of patriotism? Was he killed by the bullets of the authority, the enemy, or his comrades who dispersed the demonstrations demanding his release, so that the silence that bound the Egyptians ’tongues for decades?
Who is Khater?
Inside a simple country house in the village of Akyad in the Sharkia Governorate, Suleiman Muhammad Abd al-Hamid Khater was born in 1961; That is, the beginning of his opening to the world coincided with the defeat of 1967, when he was 6 years old.
Child Suleiman was not aware of the meaning of the word attrition when he was 9 years old. But he saw the blood of 30 children from the school of Bahr Al-Baqar village – adjacent to his village – which was bombed by Israeli air forces in April 1970 during what was known at that time as “the war of attrition.”
The boy grew up with many moral meanings, including sacrifice and loyalty, and after completing his secondary education, he joined compulsory military service, and his recruitment in the Ministry of Interior came within the Central Security Forces.
In the last days of his enlistment, and while he was on his regular guard duty in the Ras Burqa area (South Sinai) at point 46, Soliman was surprised by a group of Israelis trying to climb the hill, on which his guard post is located, and which reaches a height of about 15 meters.
He warned them in English against advancing inside the prohibited military zone, and he repeated his shouting 3 times, but they continued their walk, so he fired warning shots into the sky, but there was no response, which made him aim his weapon at them, killing 5 and wounding 7 others.
Israel said, and the Egyptian authorities agreed, that among the dead were children, and that they were tourists, while Khater confirmed in the investigations and during a press interview that he had not seen any children, and that the youngest of them was close to him in length, in addition to that, Ras Barqa is not an area of a tourist nature to visit. The tourists.
The trial of loyalty to the homeland
Suleiman carried out military orders to prevent anyone from approaching the military point, which he is guarding, and accordingly he voluntarily surrendered to the authorities after killing the Israeli aggressors, but he was surprised by the issuance of a republican decision to transfer him to a military trial.
Although he was a conscript belonging to the police forces, which means that his trial must be civil according to the text of the constitution, he was tried militarily, and a 25-year prison sentence was issued against him on December 28, 1985.
During the investigations, the Egyptian soldier said, “I am a man standing in my service, performing my duty, and in equipment and equipment that no one can see, and the mountain is of its origin forbidden anyone who sees it, whether Egyptian or foreign, this is a forbidden area and no one is in it, and this is a matter otherwise salvation remains The boundaries are empty, and all those who see their bodies cross them. “
Opposition newspapers quoted a quote attributed to Khater in the courtroom, “I do not fear death nor fear it, it is God’s judgment and destiny; but I fear that the judgment that will be issued against me will have bad effects on my colleagues, inflicting fear on them and killing them their patriotism.”
Then, when he was sentenced to prison, he said, “This sentence is a judgment against Egypt, because I am an Egyptian soldier who fulfilled his duty.”
Suicide or liquidation
The street was burning with demonstrations in support of Khater and rejecting his conviction or trial in the first place, and the security forces confronted them, while the official and semi-official newspapers launched to defend the regime’s position.
And those newspapers went on to publish what was said to be a report on the psychological state of Khater, accusing him of insanity, and stated, “The darkness was transforming his fears into mythical, frightening mythical shapes that made him jump out of the bed in panic, and the darkness made him imagine that ghosts were living at the bottom of the canal, and that they thwarted the water. Firmly at night on the way to it. “
It appears that the attempt to prove the insanity of the Egyptian soldier was not a desire to acquit him later. Rather, to strip his actions of national values and to prepare public opinion for the end. Just 10 days after he was sentenced to life imprisonment, the media announced the suicide of Corporal Suleiman Khater on January 7, 1986.
An official statement said that Khater used a nylon cover designated for the bed to hang himself, while the official Al-Musawwar magazine confirmed that the suicide was carried out with a cloth sheet, while the forensic report stated that the suicide was carried out with a piece of cloth of the type used by the Thunderbolt forces.
Khater’s brother said that his family demanded a re-autopsy through an independent committee. But the authorities refused, asserting that he noticed signs of torture on the body before burial.
The family of the late soldier ruled out that their son had committed suicide due to religious commitment or psychological imbalance. Because he believed that the authority would release him after a short period, and one day before his death, he requested books in the field of law in preparation for the completion of his university studies, as he was a student at the Faculty of Law, “the affiliation system.”
However, the recruited Ali Ibrahim makes suicide an established hypothesis through his testimony during the investigations, where he said that his colleague passed out after he shot the Israelis, and when he woke up he tried to commit suicide. But he retreated when I told him it is forbidden.
Mubarak and the Mossad
As for the scenario of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s responsibility for the killing of Khater, it was excluded by his advisor, Mustafa Al-Feki, who confirmed that he was the one who transmitted the news of the death of the twenty-year-old conscript to Mubarak.
Al-Fiqi confirmed that Mubarak was surprised by the news and expressed his annoyance. “He wanted to barter with the Jews for him, and then release a Jewish captive in exchange for the life of Suleiman Khater, and this is counted for Mubarak, and indicates that he did not kill him.”
On the other hand, and through a TV program, El-Fiqi pointed to the possibility of the Israeli Mossad being involved, saying, “Israel always tries to harm anyone whose hands have been stained with the blood of the Jews, because it believes that someone who kills a Jew should not survive.”
Mubarak himself tried to absolve his hands of blood in front of public opinion through an interview published in Al-Mussawar magazine, on January 18, 1986, where he said, “I wish Suleiman Khater was innocent, as others wished. But what happened was that Suleiman Khater killed children and women.” The court issued the ruling, and we did not interfere from near or far. “
And he added, “There was no pressure from any side, and we do not accept pressure from any party.”