Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Israeli Group Saves Palestinian From Execution

Jerusalem ( - An Israeli human rights organization says it has successfully stayed the execution of a Palestinian Arab man who was wrongfully prosecuted for honoring the Palestinian Authority's commitment to aid Israel in combating terrorism.

The Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center announced on Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority had made formal assurances that it would not carry out the planned execution of Imaad Sa'ad, 25, who was sentenced to death in a Hebron court last month on charges that in his role as a Palestinian Authority police officer, he had obtained and provided information to Israeli forces that led to the elimination of four wanted terrorists.

Shurat Hadin led a public campaign on behalf of Sa'ad, as it has for numerous other Palestinians labeled as "collaborators" and "traitors." The legal group also petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to pressure Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to do everything in their power to rescue Sa'ad.

Shurat Hadin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner told Cybercast News Service that she is relatively confident the Palestinian Authority will keep its word by not executing Sa'ad, noting that on only one prior occasion had such an agreement been violated when one out of 15 collaborators the Palestinian Authority consented to keeping alive was killed anyway.

Darshan-Leitner noted that Sa'ad, unfortunately, will now spend the rest of his days in a Palestinian prison, where he is sure to be grossly mistreated. The only way to save Sa'ad from that fate would be for the Israeli government to insist on his freedom as part of a future release of Palestinian security prisoners, a goodwill gesture Israel typically makes at least once a year. Darshan-Leitner said she expects Jerusalem to make such a request on behalf of a man who risked his life for Israel's security.

Of broader importance than the fate of a single collaborator, however, is the fact that the Palestinian Authority continues to arrest, prosecute and punish those of its citizens that aid Israel in combatting anti-Israel terrorism.

"It is a complete violation of the Olso agreements," said Darshan-Leitner, using the popular title of the first Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement and the subsequent accords its spawned.

"The Palestinian Authority is supposed to help Israel to combat terror, and if they execute those who do help, they violate the agreements and act against what is expected of them."

The Palestinian Authority has for more than a decade dealt brutally with those accused of collaborating with Israel against Palestinian terror groups, despite commitments made by Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas.

More than 20 Palestinian collaborators have been executed while in Palestinian Authority custody over the past 10 years, while scores more have fallen victim to savage street justice doled out by armed vigilantes operating with little or no interference from the authorities.

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