Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that despite his announced policy that no more terrorists would be released until the Palestinian Authority (PA) stops terror, freeing them now would help the PA fight terror. His reasoning is that terrorists will gain more power if PA chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) does not show he can deliver his promise to free the prisoners. Sharon's argument won support from 18 Cabinet ministers, and only three opposed him. They are Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, and Health Minister Dan Naveh, all from Sharon's own Likud party. Netanyahu said the PA should not be rewarded for failing to act against terrorism.
According to Sharon, "Israel has…very serious claims regarding the implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh agreements, but [we must] understand the need to strengthen moderate parts in the PA and to abide by our commitments." The Sharm el-Sheikh summit accord bound the PA to halt incitement and disarm terrorists. In exchange, Israel agreed to release 900 Arab prisoners, many of them convicted terrorists, and to withdraw from five large Arab cities. The government has withdrawn from Jericho and Tulkarm, and has freed 500 prisoners, but Israel refused to continue further concessions in the wake of continued Arab terror.
Terrorists have increased attacks since Abu Mazen concluded one-day talks with American President George W. Bush last Thursday. Two Kassam rockets exploded on Jewish communities in southern Jewish Gaza last night. They did not cause injuries. In Samaria, terrorists in a passing vehicle opened fire at IDF soldiers, who killed one of the attackers and injured two others. No Israeli troops were injured.
Another terrorist was killed in Hevron Sunday morning as he tried to stab an IDF solider. He kept running at the soldier despite warning shots from troops.
The coverage of this incident by the official PA news agency was as follows: "A Palestinian resident from the West Bank city of Hevron was shot dead earlier Sunday morning after the Israeli occupation soldiers opened their machine-guns on him near the Al-Harm…mosque…under the pretext of attempting to stab a soldier."
One of the conditions that Sharon had previously placed on releasing more terrorists from prison is a halt to incitement against Israel in the PA media.
The PA news agency also ignored the terrorist activities of a Gaza Arab who was killed Friday night while assembling a bomb. The PA reported that he died "in a suspicious blast" and that another resident died "after being denied travel to hospital by Israeli forces."
The PA agency also did not report the shooting attack on IDF soldiers near Jenin, and instead charged that Israeli soldiers "launched a large-scale arrest campaign among civilians" south of Ramallah. It also accused IDF soldiers of having killed two Arab children "who were playing in a soccer field near the Israeli Apartheid Wall," meaning the security barrier intended to protect Israel from Arab terrorists. There were no reports in and of the foreign or local media on the alleged incidents.