[Ppnews] Israel storm Palestinian jail

Political Prisoner News PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 14 13:28:45 EST 2006

Israel captures jailed Palestinians

Tuesday 14 March 2006 9:06 AM GMT

Six Palestinian fighters inside a West Bank prison in Jericho have 
surrendered to Israeli forces, almost 10 hours after Israeli troops 
laid siege to the compound.

Among those who surrendered was Ahmed Saadat, leader of a PLO faction 
and mastermind of the 2001 assassination of an Israeli Cabinet 
minister, the Israeli military announced on Tuesday.

The main targets of the raid were Saadat and four accomplices in the 
killing of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi.

In addition, Israeli forces seized Fuad Shobaki, the mastermind of an 
illegal weapons shipment to the Palestinian Authority several years ago.

Israel's West Bank commander, Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, said 15 others 
were also arrested.

Two Palestinian security officers were killed and 23 other people 
were wounded in the raid.

Earlier, Israeli troops took control of the prison compound in an 
operation to arrest jailed Palestinian resistance leaders.

Gunfire rang out and explosions rocked the area as Israeli forces 
launched their raid on Tuesday.

Bulldozers pulled down the compound as Israeli troops called through 
loudspeakers on Ahmed Saadat, the leader of the leftist Popular Front 
for the Liberation of Palestine, and his comrades to surrender.

Saadat and three other PFLP members have been jailed in Jericho, a 
prison under US and British supervision, since August 2002 after his 
faction claimed the 2001 killing of far-right Israeli tourism 
minister Rehavam Zeevi.

But at least 150 Palestinian prisoners and guards gave themselves up, 
Israeli military sources said.

Gideon Ezra, Israeli public security minister, confirmed that troops 
were on a mission to arrest the four PFLP members almost a week after 
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, reiterated that 
he was ready to free Saadat.

The slain guard was named by a Palestinian security source as Ibrahim 
Abu al-Amin. He was shot dead inside the compound by Israeli gunfire.

Attack sparks anger

The operation drew a furious response from Ismail Haniya, Hamas's 
prime minister-designate, who criticised the "dangerous  escalation" 
and warned Israel against any attempt on the life of Saadat and his comrades.

The Israeli public security minister told public radio: "This 
operation was ordered by the prime minister in the fight against 
terrorism. We are committed to the murderers of minister Rehavam 
Zeevi remaining behind bars."

A spokesman for the Palestinian interior ministry in Gaza City said 
the British and the Americans had left the premises shortly before 
the operation began.

"We have information that the British and Americans left the prison 
this morning," Tawfiq Abu Khussa told AFP.

"The Americans and British left 15 minutes before the operation 
started. The Israelis asked the police and security forces to drop 
their weapons and not resist. If they refused, they said they would 
assault the compound," he said.

"We warn Israel against any incursion in the prison because it is 
under American and British control by international agreement."

Israeli siege

Aljazeera's correspondent in Palestine Walid al-Umari quoted 
witnesses as saying that about 20 Israeli military vehicles on 
Tuesday surrounded the Palestinian presidential office and the Jericho prison.

The forces imposed a curfew on the area adjacent to the prison amid 
intense shootings.

"We have been informed that gunfire was heard in the area, but no 
information whether the raid was targeting Saadat or surrounding the 
headquarters where many Palestinian activists are present," al-Umari said.



The jail houses top Palestinian
prisoner Ahmed Saadat (file)

Mosques across Jericho called on citizens over loudspeakers to flock 
to the muqataa to protect the soldiers and prisoners inside the compound.

There were also demonstrations across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal warned Israel against harming 
Saadat, saying it would be responsible for the consequences of its 
raid on the prison.

Speaking to Aljaazeera, Meshaal also called on Palestinians to rally 
around the Jericho jail being bombarded by Israeli troops.

"We condemn this Israeli crime and hold Israel responsible for any 
consequences arising from this crime and warn them against harming 
Ahmed Saadat... and all the prisoners in Jericho," said Meshaal.

"I call on our people in Jericho to throng around the Jericho 
prison," he added.

Meshaal called on the United Nations, Muslim and Arab countries, and 
the international community to "take urgent measures to stop this crime".

In a lecture at a women's gathering in West Bank on 7 March,  Mahmoud 
Abbas said he would not mind releasing Saadat if PFLP sent him a 
written promise saying the movement would not hold the PA responsible 
for anything that might happen to Saadat after his release.

Aljazeera + Agencies

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