President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert always emphasize the need to work with the "moderate" Palestinians of Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as opposed to the "extremist" Palestinians of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The problem is that the "moderate" terrorists keep showing their true colors. Last Friday, Palestinian gunment murdered two Israeli off-duty soldiers, Ahikam Amihai (left) and Yehuda Rubin (photos at right), while the soldiers were hiking with a female companion. Before they died, the soldiers returned fire, killing one terrorist and wounding another. Their female companion escaped and alerted Israeli security forces.
Now as reported in the Jerusalem Post, Shin Bet, the Israel security agency, has revealed that one of the terrorists who killed the two Israeli hikers and escaped is a Fatah member and policeman in the Palestinian National Security Force, while another is a known Fatah operative and a close associate of the Palestinian Intelligence Service. Shin Bet revealed that the attack had been premeditated and its goal was to kill the hikers and steal their weapons.
Fearful of capture by Israel, the two surviving murderers surrendered to Palestinian security forces on the day of the attack, and turned over the weapons that they had captured from the slain soldiers. However, the Palestinian Authority did not report the surrender of the terrorists. It was not until Shin Bet learned of the surrender of the murderers from other sources, and filed a request with the Palestinian Authority for the murder weapons and the weapons captured from the Israeli soliders, that the Palestinian Authority confirmed that the two attackers had surrendered.
If the pattern of past events holds true, the terrorists will be convicted in a Palestinian Authority show trial, sentenced to prison terms, and then quietly released to assume hero status in the Palestinian "moderate" community.
This is hardly the first time that members of Fatah and the Palestinian police and security forces have been implicated in murderous attacks. Just last month, Last month, Ido Zoldan, a 29-year old father of two small children, was gunned down in the West Bank by Palestinian terrorists that turned out to be members of the PA security forces. ["Israelis Begin to Pay the Price for the Annapolis Conference," The Hedgehog Blog, November 20, 2007.] In October, a group of gunmen from Fatah were foiled in an attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Olmert while he travelled to a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian Authority arrested three suspects following the incident, and then released them. After a protest by Israeli security forces, they were re-arrested. ["Olmert Presses Negotiations With Fatah, Even While Fatah Plots to Assassinate Him," The Hedgehog Blog, October 21, 2007.]
Fatah involvement in terror and murder is hardly surprising, when Mahmoud Abbas himself, in a speech last January, called for warring Palestinian armed factions to stop fighting one another, unify and "direct our guns against the Israeli occupier." With that statement, Abbas particularly embarrassed Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Reggev, who only the week before had said that Israel's policy concerning the Palestinians was to isolate the "extremists" (Hamas and others) and strengthen the "moderates," i.e. Abbas and other Fatah leaders.
It will no doubt be a great comfort to the families of Ahikam Amihai and Yehuda Rubin that their murderers were Palestinian moderates.