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      Olmert Gov't Prevents Capture of Hikers' Killers

      Israel has acceded to a PA request not to demand the murderers of hikers David Rubin and Achikam Amichai, according to a Channel 2 report.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 1/17/2008, 9:44 AM

      Israel has acceded to a Palestinian Authority request not to demand the murderers of hikers David Rubin and Achikam Amichai, according to a Channel 2 report.

      Rubin and Amichai were murdered last month while hiking in the Telem Stream region near Hevron. They were ambushed by four terrorists, but managed to return fire and kill two of them.

      The two surviving murderers are Ali a-Hamid Rajeb Dandis, a clerk at Hevron’s Islamic Court and member of Fatah’s intelligence wing, and Amr Bader a-Halim Taha, a resident of the Abu-Sneineh hills opposite Hevron’s Jewish community and member of the Fatah-controlled PA security forces. The two took refuge shortly after the murders among their fellow PA security men in an apparently successful attempt to avoid arrest by the IDF.

      Contrary to initial reports, the PA did not even inform Israel that the two had taken refuge at a PA facility until after the Shabak (General Security Service) filed a request that the weapons of Rubin, Amichai and their killers be handed over. At that point, assuming that Israel knew the whereabouts of the murderers anyway, the PA told the Shabak that it had the men in custody.

      Now, according to the Channel 2 television expose, the Olmert government has agreed to let the murderers remain in PA custody, effectively confined to their place of employment. The IDF has operation plans ready and was poised to intercept the terrorists but the Olmert government refused to grant authorization. The terrorists are now being transferred to Jericho.

      Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu slammed the decision, saying “the humiliating agreement of the Olmert-Barak government to give up on arresting the PA heads that murdered Achikam Amichai and David Rubin is yet another testimony to the weakness and loss of national honor on the part of this government. An immediate demand that the murderers be handed over must be made.”

      Nachi Ayal, who directs the Land of Israel Legal Forum, said the decision constitutes an open invitation to terrorists to attack any citizen of Israel, since in exchange they will be presented with a vacation sponsored by the Palestinian Authority. “For the first time, Israel is not demanding the custody of the murderers of Israelis. We are witnessing the shirking of the most basic responsibility of a government to its citizens.”

      Click here for a photo essay on the hikers' Jerusalem military funeral and click here for a photo feature on Achikam Amichai.