The five inmates from the Jericho prison allegedly involved in the assassination of former tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi can be tried in Israel, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz told the cabinet Sunday.
Mazuz said he preferred that they be tried in a civil rather than a military court, since two other defendants involved in the murder were already tried in Israeli civilian courts.
Concerns that the men could not be tried here because they have already been tried in a PA court were not relevant, Mazuz said, because they were never truly tried by the PA. He did not indicate when they might be charged here.
Mazuz made it clear that Israel claimed from the time the agreement was made to move the men from Yasser Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah to the prison in Jericho in 2002 that Israel would retain legal authority over the case and there would be no legal impediment in the future to trying the men here.
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet that the raid on the prison could make it more difficult in the future for the Palestinians to agree to hold security-related prisoners in their jails, because of the fear that Israel would at some stage come and take them away.
He said that in addition to netting the five men connected with Ze'evi's assassination and Karine A paymaster Fuad Shubaki, Israel also took into detention 33 other inmates suspected of terrorism related crimes, including one man suspected of killing an Israeli in 2001, and one of those who participated in the "lynch" of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah in 2000.
Another 250 detainees in the jail were released.
Diskin said that since the raid last Tuesday there had been an increase in the number of warnings of revenge attacks, ranging from a concern about shooting incidents to kidnappings. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh briefed the cabinet on the details of the operation, and said that the prison was under surveillance and forces in place so that they could move in immediately after the international monitors left.
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, alluding to the criticism that Naveh has come under recently both because of the dismantling of Amona and his comments regarding the possibility that Hamas could overthrow Jordan's King Abdullah, praised Naveh for the success of the operation.