Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The square wheels of PA justice keeping turning

1. At the government meeting held on Sunday, October 21, 2007, Israeli Security Agency chief Yuval Diskin revealed that the PA had released three previously detained terrorist operatives belonging to a squad which had planned to assassinate the Israeli prime minister. The attack was to have been carried out during the prime minister's late June visit to Jericho . The visit was cancelled (apparently for political reasons) and rescheduled for August 6.
2. The details of the affair are the following:
1) At the end of June 2007 the ISA gave the Palestinians the names of the members of a terrorist squad who were planning to attack Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The attack was to be carried out at a meeting with PA Chairman Abu Mazen scheduled for the end of June in Jericho . That meeting was not held, but as a result of the information reinforced security measures were in place for the prime minister and his entourage during his August 6 visit to Jericho .
2) Following the information given to the Palestinian security forces by Israel , they detained three terrorist operatives . Two other members of the squad were detained by the Israeli security forces. Two of those detained by the Palestinians belonged to the National Security Force and the third served in General Intelligence. Two of the three were also members of Fatah-Tanzim.
3) The terrorist operatives who were detained admitted that they had planned to shoot at the prime minister's convoy . Nevertheless, all three operatives held by the Palestinians were released on September 26 when the investigation ended. The Palestinians issued contradictory versions of their release: Palestinian “security sources” told a journalist from the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz that they had been released “by mistake,” and that once the mistake had been realized they were again detained. On the other hand, Palestinian “political sources” claimed that the three had been released because they hadn't had a serious plan for carrying out the attack ( Ha'aretz , October 22).
4) The terrorist squad was composed of armed members of the Palestinian security forces with easy access to Jericho . They were supposed to be part of the PA's outer security ring along the road leading to Jericho or around the Intercontinental Hotel, the destination of Olmer's convoy ( Yediot Aharonot , October 22).
3. Ha'aretz reported that last Friday, October 19, the Palestinian security forces again detained two of the three terrorist operatives previously released . According to the same report, Israel detained the third terrorist previously in Palestinian hands. The PA allowed Israeli newsmen to hold short interviews with the two terrorists currently imprisoned in Jericho , in our assessment, in an attempt to deflect Israeli accusations. The two, Muhammad Gharouf and Muhammad Hamdan, were interviewed by Ha'aretz and Yediot Haaharonot reporters and as expected, denied Israel 's version ( Ha'aretz , Yediot Aharonot , October 22).

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