A former Prisoner of Zion filed a petition with the Supreme Court this morning to induce Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to come to the aid of fifteen Arabs sentenced to death by the Palestinian Authority for helping Israel.

Former Prisoner of Zion Ida Nudel, together with Shurat HaDin - the Israel Law Center, filed the petition on behalf of fifteen Arabs on death row in the PA. The law suit charges that the Israeli government has refused to act to rescue the condemned prisoners, who were convicted and sentenced to death on charges of having assisted the IDF and security services in thwarting terrorist attacks and capturing wanted terrorists.

The petitioners are demanding that Israel undertake an emergency campaign to pressure the PA to cancel the impending executions of the prisoners, or alternatively, to conduct a military operation to free the condemned men by force.

The president of the PA military courts, Saeb Al-Kidwa, announced on March 2nd that the fifteen prisoners on death row for "collaborating with the Israeli security services" would be executed in the coming weeks. Kidwa said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was expected to officially approve the executions soon, after the PA-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Ekrimah Sabri endorsed the sentences. Sabri, who also administers the Islamic wakf that asserts power over the Temple Mount, recently confirmed that he had been asked by Abbas to review the files of the prisoners and has made recommendations in several of the cases.

Following the announcement, on March 7th, Ida Nudel and the Shurat HaDin organization wrote to Prime Minister Sharon demanding that he take immediate action to rescue the Arab prisoners. The Prime Minister has yet to respond to the letter.

"There is a moral obligation for the Prime Minister to rescue the prisoners," the Supreme Court petition contends. "After utilizing the vital information they provided, at great risk to their own lives, to safeguard the lives of Israeli citizens and soldiers, he cannot simply abandon them to their own fates."

Russian-born Ida Nudel became one of the founders of Soviet Jewry's "refusenik" movement in 1972 after being denied a visa to immigrate to Israel. During the next seven years, she established herself as the most defiant and outspoken of Jewish figures in the Soviet Union and was frequently arrested by the KGB. On June 21, 1978, Nudel was sentenced to four years of exile in Siberia. Finally, in 1987, after years of an international struggle to secure her freedom, the Soviet government bowed to world pressure and allowed her to make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

Nudel has been outspoken in the past on the issue of Israel's refusal to aid and rescue Arabs arrested by the PA on charges of assisting the IDF in its war against the PA terrorist groups.

It is believed that approximately 68 Palestinians have been sentenced to death in show trials before hastily convened PA "military tribunals" since the PA was established in 1994. In those trials, the accused prisoners were not given the opportunity to defend themselves or even provided with a defense attorney to argue on their behalf. Moreover, despite the capital punishment imposed, the defendants had no right to an appeal.

"Despite the repeated reports that the PA is going to imminently execute fifteen prisoners accused of having risked their lives on Israel's behalf, the Prime Minister is refusing to even lift a finger to rescue these Arab agents," Shurat HaDin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said this morning. "We are asking the Supreme Court to compel the government to undertake every effort available to secure the freedom of these brave individuals from the PA. It defies belief that the government would be contemplating releasing another 400 Palestinian terrorists while the PA is planning to execute fifteen of our prisoners. These so called 'collaborators' are Israel's front line in the war on Palestinian terror; they have assisted the IDF in thwarting thousands of suicide bombing attempts and must not be merely thrown to the dogs."