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Back to the Drawing Board

Shlomi Gil

From his little corner in the offices of Globes business daily, Gil Gibli pens his often irreverent, always brilliant caricatures. But it’s not only politics that intrigue him. He’s also helped the police crack some of the country’s toughest mysteries.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It started with a bloody terrorist attack on an Egged bus on its way from Tel Aviv to Teveria on a June morning in 2002 — the height of the second intifada, when terror atrocities had become daily events. At the Megiddo Junction, a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laced car up to the bus, blowing it apart and taking the lives of 17 passengers. But only 16 were identified. Who was victim number 17, and why wasn’t anyone looking for him? Were there no family members who wondered where he was? Police investigators concluded that the man, his body mangled beyond identification, was a foreign worker, and he was the first terror victim to be buried anonymously. But a team of researchers working in tandem with the police, and a documentary television crew, didn’t want to give up on trying to identify the victim, whoever he was. Five months after the attack, they turned to Gil Gibli from Globes. He was a master at capturing a person’s essence, and had done some forensic work previously. Gibli didn’t have much to go on, but he took the challenge. The investigators had discovered two witnesses who might have talked to the unknown man — the driver, and a teenage girl hired to do a passenger survey. But who would remember an anonymous passenger nearly half a year later? It seemed hopeless. Composite sketches for identification purposes based on eyewitness testimony are usually done by the witness choosing, say, one of hundreds of noses, eyes, and lips to create a portrait. But for someone you’ve only seen fleetingly, and so long ago before a traumatic event, it’s nearly impossible to put the pieces together. Gibli — part artist, part psychologist — used another method.

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