Four-and-a-half years after they murdered Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi, justice finally caught up with a gang of “Palestinian” assassins Tuesday after IDF forces surrounded the Jericho jail where they have been enjoying the protection of the Palestinian Authority.
The drama began Tuesday morning after US and British observers were ordered by their governments to leave the prison where they have been monitoring the incarceration of the five Arab killers, including leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmed Saadat.
Within 20 minutes, IDF forces using tanks, bulldozers and helicopters surrounded the jail and, using loudspeakers, called on all the prisoners to come out and give themselves up.
Tanks shells and air-to-ground missiles were fired into the prison, and walls were knocked down by the armor-plated earth-moving equipment amid promises by an IDF colonel that Israel was determined to arrest the wanted men or kill them. No negotiations would be held.
A sixth prisoner, Fuad Shoubaki, who masterminded an illegal massive weapons shipment to the PA in 2002, was also being sought by the IDF.
After initially refusing to leave, a number of prisoners came out, some stripping down to their underwear and approaching the Israeli troops with their hands in the air.
But Saadat, speaking from inside the prison by telephone to the Arabic TV station Al Jazeera, swore that he and his fellow killers would not surrender but fight to the death.
Meanwhile, in efforts to get world governments to intervene and stop the Israeli action, "Palestinians" kidnapped as many as 17 foreigners in the Gaza Strip and threatened to kill them.
Hours later, however, after Britain and the US laid the blame for the events at the PA's door, the six wanted men gave themselves up.
Saadat is believed to have arranged the killing of Minister Ze’evi, who was shot dead in a Jerusalem hotel on October 17, 2001.
Together with four accomplices, Saadat sought protection in Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah compound, which was besieged by the IDF.
In an agreement brokered by the US and UK, Israel agreed to the men being placed in a PA jail provided they were monitored by US and British observers.
After the Hamas victory in the “Palestinian” elections, the victorious terror group vowed to free the killers.
Last week PA president Mahmoud Abbas also said he intended to let them out of jail.