Ze'evi Murderers Could be Tried Again

The murderers of a top IDF general - the late Cabinet Minister Ze'evi - may be tried again in an Israeli court. The issue will be raised in governmental judicial & security circles Thursday night.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 12:44

The discussion will be held in the office of State Prosecutor Eran Shendar.

The terrorist cell was apprehended by an IDF unit on Tuesday, after they were held in a PA prison for the last nearly four years under British and American supervision. When the foreign guards announced their imminent departure, and in light of Hamas announcements that the prisoners would be freed, Israeli troops readied themselves to capture the terrorists. After a ten-hour siege of the prison, Israeli troops captured the murderers, and other prisoners, alive.

The terrorists in question are two PFLP heads, Ahmed Saadat and Ahed Ulama, as well as three men who took part in the actual murder. In addition, Fuad Shubaki, who was responsible for large-scale arms smuggling into PA-controlled areas, including the Karine-A weapons ship, was also held with this group and arrested this week by Israeli forces.

Tourism Minister Rehavam (Gandi) Ze'evi was murdered in a Jerusalem hotel in October 2001 by a cell of PFLP (Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine) terrorists. They later found refuge in the Mukata with Yasser Arafat, but when Israel threatened to capture them, the PA put the three actual murderers on trial. Within two days, in April 2002, they were sentenced to 18, 12 and 8 years in prison, respectively.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at the time that Israel did not recognize the trial, insisting that the fugitives be turned over to Israel to stand trial. "Strange," Sharon said. "Why would they want them to stand trial twice? After all, we will try them in any event." Then-Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the trial was a "great show," and Palmach Ze'evi, the son of the slain minister, said,
"The so-called trial being held in Arafat's headquarters is an embarrassment to Israel and her sovereignty... It is yet another proof of the foolishness and disgrace of the Oslo Accords. I am certain the Prime Minister will continue to demand that the PLO hand over the murderers to stand trial in Israel.”

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) says there is no question that the murderers must be retried in Israel. "They were tried in the PA only for their insubordination to Arafat," Eldad told Arutz-7's Hebrew radio newsmagazine, "but not for the murder. Now they must be tried for murder."

Eldad says the murderers should have been treated with a stronger hand during the siege. "We should have said that the building would be blown up in an hour, and anyone who doesn't come out with his hands up in that time is forfeiting his life."

Middle East Studies expert Dr. David Bukai of Haifa University said, "The state of Israel should make it clear that whoever comes to kill its citizens will be killed, and therefore these people - no matter whether they killed a government minister or any other Israeli - should have been killed in battle... I'm against the death sentence in courts, because such a thing would never be accepted, but it should have been done on the battlefield; we have the technological know-how to pinpoint exactly what part of the room a target is standing."