Report: Abbas to release Ze'evi killers

IDF vows to respond swiftly if they are released from their Jericho prison.

rehavam zeevi 298.88 (photo credit: GPO)
rehavam zeevi 298.88
(photo credit: GPO)
The IDF was preparing itself in the case that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas released the killers of former minister Rehavam Ze'evi, vowing to respond swiftly if they were released from their Jericho holding cells, Channel 2 reported Sunday night. Defense and security officials warned that in the event the newly elected Palestinian government decide to release Ahmed Sa'adat from jail, Israel will hunt him down. "He and all those involved in Ze'evi's murder will not roam freely," a security official said. The official warned, "if they are released from jail they will be targeted by us. Under no circumstances will they be allowed to enjoy freedom of movement outside jail." In May 2002, Sa'adat and Fuad Shubaki, the paymaster of the Karine A weapons smuggling boat, were incarcerated in Jericho as a part of a security deal reached to end a 40-day siege at Yasser Arafat's Mukata compound in Ramallah. It was decided that the two, with others who were involved in Ze'evi's murder, would remain behind bars and be monitored by US and British agents. Abbas was reportedly close to reaching a decision to release them, and Hamas leader abroad, Khaled Mashaal, was also working behind the scenes to ensure their release. Abbas said last Tuesday he would be prepared to free from prison the mastermind Ze'evi's assassination, but he would not be responsible for any Israeli actions against him. Ahmed Sa'adat, head of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group responsible for the October 2001 assassination of MK Rehavam Ze'evi, is imprisoned under international supervision in Jericho. Israel has repeatedly warned the Palestinians that if Sa'adat is freed, they will get their hands on him. "I have no problem releasing Ahmed Sa'adat tomorrow, but with one condition: to have a letter from the PFLP politburo saying that I am not responsible for what would happen to him after that," Abbas told reporters.