Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, stated on Tuesday evening, that Israel knew in advance when the U.S and U.K guards will be leaving the Jericho prison compound, as part of coordination to clear the way for the soldiers to attack the prison. and arrest the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Sa’adat, and his comrades.
The statements of Mofaz contradict statements of Israeli military officials who claimed that that there was no prior coordination between Israel and the guards who left the prison compound before the army invaded the West Bank city of Jericho and surrounded the prison.
Mofaz added that the army was preparing for this operation since last week, and that he approved the plan which was carried out on Tuesday.
The plan, according to Mofaz, was to use a “gradual pressure” policy against the political detainees instead of breaking into the prison and clashing with them.
Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the plan was to siege the prison, practice “a pressure cooker” on the detainees, and gradually increase the pressure rather than attacking the prison.
“This attack, and the arrests, is a clear message that Israel will not bargain on its national and security interests”, Mofaz stated, “We cannot allow the killers of an Israeli ministers to move freely.
He added that Israel decided to carry this operation after receiving intelligence info that the Palestinian Authority intends to release the political detainees imprisoned in Jericho.
Several Arab members of the Israeli Knesset, Arab political parties and the Israeli peace bloc , accused the acting Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, of running his election campaign by attacking the Palestinians in order to win the votes of the Israeli right.
Directly after the army arrested Sa’adat, Olmert called Mofaz, and “congratulated him on the success of the operation”.
Meanwhile, Mofaz phoned the Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, and the head of the Israeli Shabak (Security Services), Avi Diskin, and thanked them for “the successful operation that caused no casualties among the soldiers”.
Israel claims that Sa’adat has ordered the assassination of cabinet minister Rehavam Ze’evi in a Jerusalem hotel in 2001.
Sa’adat, and three of his comrades were arrested by the army and transferred to an Israeli detention facility; at least 15 other prisoners were arrested in the attack.
An Israeli military source reported that all of the prisoners who did not carry attacks against Israeli targets will be released, while the rest will be prosecuted in Israeli courts and imprisoned.
Dozens of fighters of the brigades, arrested by the Palestinian Authority were imprisoned there; the fighters were wanted to the Israeli security and were all arrested on Tuesday’s invasion.
Also, dozens of Palestinian security men, who were holed at the prison compound until evening hours, were forced out of the compound and arrested.
The total number of Palestinians arrested in the attack arrived to 300. Three Palestinians were killed and at least 35 others were injured during the Israeli military assault.