Shin Bet: Hikers' killers were from Fatah

Olmert, Livni and Barak to discuss revelation; minister: Attackers' punishment is test to PA.

PA security great 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
PA security great 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The terrorists who gunned down two off-duty soldiers hiking near Hebron on Friday are both Palestinian Authority workers, and one of them is even a member of the official PA security forces, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) revealed Tuesday night. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold a special meeting on Wednesday with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to discuss the newly revealed information, Israel Radio reported. Despite the recent developments, negotiations with the PA would not be stopped, a senior official said. Since the attack on Friday, the PA has claimed that the murderers of David Rubin and Ahikam Amihai were unaffiliated terrorists. On Sunday, The Jerusalem Post reported that at least two of them were Fatah operatives. According to details of the attack released Tuesday, the gunmen - Ali Dandis, 24, and Amar Taha, 26, both residents of Hebron - surrendered on the day of the attack to the Palestinian security forces in Hebron out of fear that they would be caught by the IDF. They also handed over the soldiers' weapons. Dandis, a Fatah operative, worked as a clerk at the Sharia courts in the city, and Taha was a member of the PA National Security Force. Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra said Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority would be tested in the punishment it gives the attack's perpetrators, Israel Radio reported. Ezra stated that the PA must rid itself of any members acting against its policy. Meanwhile, Palestinian security officials told the radio station that one of the men was dismissed from Palestinian security forces two months ago for disciplinary issues, and PA security officials reiterated their claims that the attack had criminal motives and not terrorist ones. Security officials noted that Friday's attack was not the first time Palestinian policemen had been involved in terror attacks. Last month, Ido Zoldan was gunned down in the West Bank by Palestinian terrorists who turned out to be members of the PA security forces. Defense officials were highly critical of the PA, which did not immediately report the terrorists' surrender to the IDF on Friday. Confirmation only came after the Shin Bet learned of the surrender and demanded that the PA hand over the slain soldiers' weapons. The weapons were transferred to Israel on Saturday. Security officials said the attack was premeditated and that the terrorists' goal had been to kill the hikers and steal their weapons. The officials said that declarations in the media by Palestinian officials that the incident was of a criminal nature and that Amihai and Rubin had been trying to sell their weapons were in direct contradiction to the findings at the scene, as well as to the confessions of the terrorists themselves. The declarations, they said, were likely an attempt by the PA to skirt responsibility for the incident, particularly because the terrorists were Fatah operatives and members of the PA security forces.