Arab food vendor in Ramallah (illustration)
Arab food vendor in Ramallah (illustration)Issam Rimawi / Flash 90

Inspired by their time working in an Israeli prison canteen, two Palestinian terrorists have launched a lucrative food truck in Ramallah in Samaria, in a first for the region ruled by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

It's not quite the captive audience they were used to, but Khaldun al-Barghuti and Abderrahman al-Bibi's brightly colored van is drawing attention - and hungry patrons - on the pavements and in the parks of the PA's political center.

Barghuti, who spent eight years in an Israeli prison, and Bibi, who spent nine, served food to fellow inmates during their time in jail.

They said they served time for "resisting the Israeli occupation," but refused to provide further details regarding the terrorist activities that landed them in jail.

Barghuti, who was freed at the beginning of this year, said it was no coincidence that he decided to open a mobile business - dubbed the "Food Train" - following his release.

"I had to get on the move after so much time spent in a small cell, I was tired of the long hours of boredom and I wanted to move all the time, like a train," he said, filling a baguette with grilled chicken and diced onions.

He also said the psychedelic paint job of the van in red, blue, orange, purple and yellow came in response to the monotone colors of jail life.

In Israeli jails, Palestinian terrorists have been revealed to be enjoying numerous perks, and even benefit from university degree study programs.

Street stalls flogging falafel, grilled corncobs or Turkish coffee are a common part of any Arab street, but a restaurant in a truck with two fridges and a stove, powered by four huge solar panels, was unheard of before the Food Train.

Although such food trucks are all the rage in cities from New York to Paris, the two terrorists had to ask the PA ministry of transport to issue its first license for their mobile restaurant, which was inspired by their time in Israeli jail.

Serving Middle Eastern street food alongside hot dogs and sandwiches, the truck has proven surprisingly popular.

"We didn't expect to have so many customers this fast," said Barghuthi.

Since opening the truck three weeks ago, the two men take turns at the stove from 8 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week.

Barghuti, sporting a neatly trimmed black beard and an apron tied around his neck, said that in general they park next to "universities or public gardens, and sometimes employees ask us to come in to their industrial zone."

When AFP visited, the colored minivan was posted near a vegetable market.

Anaam Sheikh, buying a sandwich, said the Food Train was positive in many ways.

"It shows how ex-prisoners can bounce back and it is also environmentally friendly with solar energy," she said. "I hope it will set an example and others will be inspired."

Just last Wednesday the PA was exposed as scamming Western donors who provide it with over $1 billion annually, as it cunningly breaches their requirements that it stop paying the exorbitant salaries of jailed terrorists.

AFP contributed to this report.