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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Abbas: Prison raid was 'unforgivable'

Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen says that Israel's Tuesday raid of a Jericho prison, in which Rehavam Ze'evi HY"D's murderers were captured along with Karine A paymaster Fuad Shubaki, was an 'unforgiveable crime.' Abu Mazen has a definition of 'crime' that only an Islamist (or some other Orwellian character) could love:

Israel's raid of a West Bank prison is an "unforgivable crime" and an insult to the Palestinian people, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said during a tour of the demolished complex Wednesday.

In Tuesday's raid, Israeli troops pounded Jericho's prison with missiles, tank shells and jackhammers to force the surrender of more than 300 prisoners and police officers. Among those taken by Israel was leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Sa'adat, the alleged mastermind of the 2001 assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

Abbas cut short his Europe trip and rushed back to the West Bank in response to the raid. [I wonder what he would do if R"L there were a terror attack. Probably he would extend his trip. CiJ]

During the tour of the compound, he said that the raid "is an unforgivable crime and an insult to the Palestinian people." Later Wednesday, Abbas was to tour Jericho's hospital to visit those wounded in Tuesday's fighting.

Abbas suggested there was close coordination between British and American inspectors at the prison and Israeli forces. Abbas said foreign monitors, deployed at the prison since 2002 under an unusual arrangement, left Jericho at 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, and that Israeli forces entered town 10 minutes later.

Pressed to elaborate, he said: "I'm giving the facts. They (the monitors) left at 9:20 a.m., and the Israelis came in at 9:30 a.m. How can we explain that?" [The Israelis had soldiers standing guard at the only exit from town and the Americans and the British have been threatening to pull out for two months. CiJ]

Abbas also played down the complaints by the British and US governments that the Palestinians had violated the 2002 arrangement under which Sa'adat and other suspects were being held. In a joint letter last week, the US and British governments said the Palestinian jailers were not supervising the inmates closely.

"They (the monitors) used to send us weekly reports, complaining about small violations, someone got a mobile phone, someone was visited by his families, but they never spoke of serious things," Abbas said. [That's not what the Americans and the Brits are saying. CiJ]

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair blamed the 'Palestinians' for the collapse of the unique 'prison arrangement' in Jericho:

During the weekly prime minister's question time in the House of Commons, Blair explained that British and US monitors had been placed in Jericho as a result of the 2002 Ramallah Agreement, "whereby people charged with serious offenses, including assassination of Israeli politicians, would be kept in this detention center and we would monitor their detention."

The prime minister said, "These monitors were unarmed civilians whose role was not to police or be prison wardens but to monitor that the correct procedures were being implemented."

Under the terms of the Ramallah Agreement the "Palestinians would take charge of the detention but it would be independently monitored by us." he said.

Britain had honored its agreement "every inch of the way" and its repeated warnings had been proof "of our good faith, not our bad faith," Blair told the House.

"Proper detention procedures were not being observed on the Palestinian side," the prime minister said.

The Foreign Office warned the PA for three months that security was "not adequate and proper," Blair said. On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told the House of Commons his concerns over security at the Jericho prison began more than a year ago.

While he supported the withdrawal of the monitors, Conservative Party leader David Cameron questioned the British government's handling of the dispute with the PA, saying he was "deeply concerned" by the violence. He asked Blair whether he was "satisfied that the consequences of withdrawing the monitors were properly thought through."

Blair said his government had warned PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that "this is a serious situation. You have to act."

"The idea that this was either precipitate or uncalled for or unthought through is simply wrong," he said.

Several backbench MPs objected to the pullout and denounced the Israeli operation. Phyllis Starkey, Labor MP for Milton Keynes South West, said Britain now had a "shattered reputation" as an honest broker in the region, while another Labor MP Tuesday told the House the Israeli siege of the Jericho prison was "state-supported terrorism." [Some day, one of my English readers can explain to me why Tony Blair is still part of Labor and hasn't jumped to the Conservatives. CiJ]

Saadat's London attorney, Kate Maynard, criticized Blair, telling the Post the British government should have withdrawn its monitors "in such a way as to preserve my client's liberty and safety." [The guy is charged with murder. Somehow, I don't think his liberty and safety should be the primary concern. CiJ]

"The role of the British monitors in what happened in the prison yesterday should be very carefully scrutinized by Parliament," she said, and "will be scrutinized in court."

"I am deeply concerned with any complicity between the British and Israelis in what happened," she said. In the past, the US and British monitors made demands "upon my client and others, knowing full well they would capitulate because [the monitor's] leaving would lead to [their] almost certain death," Maynard said. [If that's the case, why didn't the Israelis just kill him instead of taking him alive (and endangering their soldiers lives to do so)? They could have just bombed the prison from the air. CiJ]

Britain may have been "criminally culpable" over the seizure of Saadat, Maynard said. [ROTFL CiJ] She said the "monitors reported on my client's every move to the Israelis" and notified the Israelis they were leaving, "giving them the green light to go in" and carry out Tuesday's raid.

Maynard said she had spoken with Saadat about possible legal remedies under British human rights law on March 8. "My initial instructions were to get the role of the British in my client's unlawful detention terminated," she said.

Maynard said she had received no response her requests to the British and Israeli governments to provide Saadat access to his lawyers, and expressed concern that the British government had not provided her with a copy of the Ramallah Agreement, outlining the terms of his captivity in Jericho.

"I am concerned he may be tortured" while in custody, Maynard said. "In the past, Israelis have detained suspects and have gone on to kill them," she said. [Name one. CiJ]


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