"When the US and British guards left their posts at the Al Muqataa prison, the ‘Jericho Agreement’ became null and void", announced an Israeli military commander in the midst of the Israeli assault on the prison Tuesday afternoon.
Palestinians, including the Palestinian leadership, allege that the withdrawal was in collusion with Israeli forces, who attacked the prison with massive military force less than an hour after the US and British guards left.
British and US observers have been monitoring the jail since 2002. Their role had been to ensure that the treatment of inmates conformed with human rights standards, a Foreign Office spokesman said.
"The three British monitors were withdrawn around 7.30 GMT today," the spokesman said, adding, "We decided we were no longer able to ensure their safety. On March 8, we wrote to [the Palestinian president Mahmoud] Abbas and pointed this out, and that unless the situation improved we would withdraw them."
Less than an hour after the monitors left, Israeli forces entered the town and surrounded the prison, demanding over loudspeakers that six prisoners, including Palestinian resistance leader Ahmad Sadat, give themselves up. The troops then broke into the jail in a bulldozer and armoured personnel carriers, and exchanged fire with the Palestinian police, said Akram Rajoub, the local security commander.
One policeman, standing near the prison gate, was killed and at least one other man has been killed in the invasion thus far, the officials said. Although 170 of the prisoners have surrendered, approximately 120 remain inside the prison and refuse to surrender.
Palestinians Blame US, UK for Israel Attack on Jericho Prison
Tuesday, 14 March 2006 10:54
The Israeli invasion of the jail in Jericho by the military which according to Israel’s claims is meant to arrest the PFLP Secretary-General Ahmed Sa’adat and five of his comrades created uproar among Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Britain, U.S. bear responsibility for Israeli raid of Jericho prison.
Abbas said that British and American security guards are responsible for the protection of the prisoners in their custody.
Palestinian Parliament Member Khaleda Jarrar, from PFLP blamed the Palestinian Authority who agreed to put Sa’adaat in prison and have British and American security officers to guard him.
She slammed the PA’s explanations that having Sa’adaat in prison is for his protection.
The Palestinian High Court ruled few months ago that Sa’adat should be released. Abbas said few days ago that he may agree to release Sa’adaat if the PFLP will be responsible to protect him.
Hundreds of Palestinians are demonstrating in Ramallah against the military operation in the Jericho prison, warning Israel not to harm Sa’adat and his comrades and demanding international intervention to stop the operation.
The operation was welcomed by Israeli ministers, but condemned by Arab Knesset members.
The Israeli Minister of Public Security Gedeon Ezra said the operation is meant to arrest Sa’adat.
However, Arab MK Ahmad Tibi said the government’s decision to arrest the Sa’adat in Jericho jail is an election stunt.
He described the operation as a blatant breach of Israel’s agreements with the Palestinian Authority.
On the other hand, right wing MK Arieh Eldad said he hopes Sa’adaat and his comrades won’t survive the military operation in Jericho.
Israeli army invades Jericho, surrounds PA prison, Palestinian killed
Israeli Air force gun ships shelled Palestinian jail in Jericho where Ahmad Sa’adaat secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is jailed over allegiations of killing the Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.
Majd Rimawi, in Jericho prison, told Al-Arabiya TV over the phone that four prisoners were injured.
He added that the Israeli army bulldozer, armored personnel carriers have entered prison grounds.
Sa’adat and five of his comrades from the PFLP are under American and British custody in the Palestinian jail since 2002.
Large Israeli forces invaded the city and surrounded the jail. Palestinian security source said American and British security guards left the jail before the Israeli army invaded the city, local sources reported.
Palestinian security source said American and British security guards left the jail before the Israeli army invaded the city.
Troops called through megaphones for Sa’adat and his comrades to give themselves up
Exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Palestinian police erupted at the jail upon the arrival of the Israeli troops. Palestinian Policeman has been reported wounded in the clashes.
Army bulldozers are digging a trench around the jail to tighten to siege.