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Justice at Last By: Micah Halpern
MicahHalpern.com | Thursday, March 23, 2006

Israel watched and waited. Israel prepared and Israel persevered. And it all came together on March 14th.

March 14th. The day that United States and United Kingdom peacekeepers fled for their lives, afraid of being kidnapped or killed by Palestinian terrorists. The day that United States and United Kingdom peacekeeping forces said enough to fear and uncertainty as they watched colleagues disappear, taken hostage, their fates unknown, wondering if they would be next.

March 14th. The day that the Israeli army led a daring raid on the Jericho prison abandoned by Americans and the British, left solely guarded by Palestinian jailers. The day that Israel entered the prison and took captive five members of the PFLP, the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The day that five men responsible for the murder of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rechavam "Ghandi" Zeevi exchanged a Palestinian prison for an Israeli prison.

For the Israelis, it was worth the wait.

And now, Israel is claiming that under Israeli law they will bring the assassins to trial. Israel is claiming that the men who planned the assassination of Zeevi, in October of 2002, in a Jerusalem hotel corridor, will be brought to justice under Israeli jurisdiction.

The Palestinians disagree.

The Palestinian Authority claims that putting these men on trial - again, in Israel - is a violation of an agreement signed by Israel and the Palestinians. They claim that putting these men on trial in Israel violates Annex IV of Oslo 2 which states that "no person can be tried twice for the same offense." The Palestinians argue that it is double-faced for Israel and the United States to demand that Hamas honor previous agreements if they themselves intend to flaunt this agreement.

The Palestinians are right. And they are wrong.

Four of the men now in Israeli hands were tried by the Palestinians. True, it was a middle of the night trial that lasted all of twenty minutes, but they were, technically, tried and found guilty. The fifth man, Ahmed Saadat, was never tried by the Palestinians. He went to prison because he feared for his life, feared that Israel would capture him or target him. He went to prison because it was the safest place to be. Ahmed Saadat is the head of the PFLP. Ahmed Saadat never, ever, went on trial for the assassination of Rechavam Zeevi.

Ahmed Saadat is fair game. As for the other four, while Israel may not bring them to trial for the assassination, they can certainly try them for a host of other related crimes.

The Palestinian Authority is famous for revolving-door-justice. And that is the reason that the prison was watched over, not guarded, but monitored by the Americans and the British. The only reason these men were even in prison is because the United States and the United Kingdom demanded that they be brought to justice and then took up surveillance posts outside the prison doors. The prisoners still used their cell phones and were often visited by high level PA leaders and nobody knows that they were really behind bars, but they were, at least physically, in prison.

In fact, Saadat was actually elected to the Palestinian Parliament in the Hamas-led government, from prison.

And now Saadat is claiming that he wants to sue the United Kingdom for not properly protecting him in the prison.

The United Kingdom was not there to protect Saadat inside the prison, they were there to prevent his escaping from the prison. And he is not the one who escaped. They, the prison-watchers, escaped, pulling out because the situation was too dangerous for them, the peacekeepers. Saadat was captured.

So Israel waited, the United States and the United Kingdom watched, and the Palestinians will be punished for their crime. It was inevitable. Time was on the side of justice.

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Micah Halpern maintains The Micah Report.

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