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The Jericho Jihad By: David Meir-Levi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ahmad Saadat is the PFLP terrorist leader convicted by a Palestinian court of assassinating Israel’s Minister of Tourism in 2001. Yet, since April of 2002, he and five other terrorist inmates have enjoyed unusually plush “prison” accommodations, the result of an Israeli compromise following the siege of the late Yasir Arafat’s headquarters, the Muqata, in which Israel agreed that Saadat and other wanted PFLP terrorists would be imprisoned in Jericho and guarded by British and American troops.

Israel complained repeatedly that the Palestinian Authority was violating the 2002 agreement. The British and American consuls complained as well. Treated more like guests at hotel than terrorists with blood on their hands, they enjoyed access to an office, phones, televisions, a private reception area--off limits to the jail’s guards--as well as unlimited access to visitors, a private kitchen, immunity from cell searches, and unmonitored correspondence.

Consequently, the six were able to regulate and direct terrorist operations from inside their Jericho “jail.” They had even taken over the jail’s armory and had access to weapons. The “prisoners” ran the “prison," while the American and British guards feared for their personal security.

Shortly after winning the recent elections, Hamas leaders made public their intent to release the Jericho prisoners. Israel then promised to re-arrest them. Meanwhile, Israeli and U.K. military intelligence reported credible and actionable warnings that the PFLP planned to use force to free the prisoners, and to hold U.K. and U.S. monitors as hostage in the process. What finally sparked Israel's operation against the Jericho prison was the Palestinian Authority’s release of Islamic Jihad operatives from other PA jails. It was clear that the Jericho prisoners would be next.

First, however, Britain and the U.S. delivered an ultimatum to PA president Mahmoud Abbas: Either implement the agreement in full, at once, or reach a different agreement with Israel. Failing to do either, Abbas received a letter from the consuls that they were canceling the 2002 agreement.

Because the prisoners were due to be released on March 15, Israel swooped down on March 14, surrounded the jail, rained a hail of artillery rounds aimed intentionally at the unoccupied areas near and around the building where the inmates were housed, used bulldozers to topple outer walls, and, after a ten-hour stand-off, accepted the surrender of the prisoners. Three Arabs were killed during exchanges of small arms fire. Among the 200 prisoners in the jail were 75 who had no record of terrorism. These were freed. The PFLP leaders were taken, alive and unharmed, to an Israeli jail.

But then the “wrath of the Saracen” erupted. In waves of rent-a-mob violence, armed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank began a series of choreographed riots, setting fire to British Consul offices in Gaza, vandalizing other UK official buildings in Ramallah, and attacking other western offices throughout the West Bank. Ratcheting up the stakes, PFLP operatives in Damascus have now put out an APB telling their terrorist cells in Europe to start targeting Jewish sites for suicide bombings.

And why not? It worked with the cartoon Intifada (minus the suicide bombings), so why not try it when Israel does something that the terrorists don't like? Israel re-arrests Palestinian murderers, and in response terrorists kidnap innocent, unrelated and unarmed westerners, burn western buildings, threaten westerners with death, and otherwise make it clear to the world just how upset they are, and how violent they can become.

Tony Blair blames Abbas. Israel blames Hamas and Abbas. But the PA, EU and other Arab countries blame Israel. No surprise there. Blaming Israel helps to calm the “Arab Street”. After all, the thinking runs, if they blame Israel loud enough, the buildings and personnel of European countries won’t be attacked.

The New York Times chastises Israel (“As if that fire needed fuel”, editorial, 3.16.06) for humiliating the prisoners by making them strip to their underwear before Israeli soldiers would handcuff them and cart them off to a real jail. As the Times’ editorialists see it, justice for murderers pales in importance when compared to the terrorists’ hurt feelings and humiliation at needing to strip for security reasons. Perhaps they have never read their own newspaper’s articles on the hundreds of suicide bombers who have hid 20 lbs. of TNT in their underwear.

One wonders how long it will be before the UK, UN and others start pressuring Israel to release the murderers in exchange for the western hostages, in the hope that Israel’s capitulation will calm the raging Arab “street”. Let’s see how long it will be before rent-a-riot violence explodes all over the Moslem world; before PFLP suicide bombers start masquerading as Hasidic Jews (who wear baggy coats which could easily hide the bombers’ dynamite belts) so they can use European synagogues as their springboard to heaven; and young Moslem students in American universities start driving their SUVs into crowds of innocent Americans standing at bus stops.

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David Meir-Levi lectures in English, Hebrew, and Spanish and is a contributor to Frontpagemag.com.

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