JERUSALEM – As part of a controversial prisoner swap deal with Hezbollah, WND has learned Israel agreed to release the body of an infamous Palestinian terrorist glorified in Palestinian society and in the greater Palestinian terrorist community as one of the most significant heroes.
WND today obtained official communications from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization asking all sections of the PA to prepare at the highest levels for celebrations, festivities and even symbolic funerals marking Israel’s release of the body of Dalal al-Mughrabi.
In March 1978, Mugharbi, a female terrorist, led and planned an attack in which herself and ten other Palestinians infiltrated Israel by sea, landed on a beach, killed an American photographer and then hijacked a crowded bus.
Israeli forces pursued the bus, sparking a long shooting battle in which the terrorists fired from bus windows at nearby passenger cars, killing several Israelis. Eventually, the terrorists blew up the bus in a suicide operation, killing themselves and a total of 36 civilians.
Israel kept the remains of Mughrabi and the other terrorists in part so that Palestinian society would not make shrines of their burial places.
Mughrabi has long been glorified as one of the most important “martyrs” in Palestinian society. Official PA institutions, such as girls schools and police training camps, bear her namesake. Songs and poems in her honor are routinely broadcast on PA television and radio.
During the Palestinian intifada – or terrorist war – started in September 2000, Fatah’s declared military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, named a cell after Mughrabi. That cell, which is still active, perpetuated numerous shootings and suicide bombings.
An official PA pamphlet obtained by WND asks Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip and West Bank to prepare victory celebrations for the day Mughrabi’s body is released by Israel.
“We call upon all regional Fatah leaders to make the necessary activities, demonstrations, festivals and symbolic funerals in a very significant way to glorify this big hero. We call upon Fatah sections to form special committees with the mission of coordinating these preparations,” read the pamphlet.
The communication went on to call for Israeli Arabs to also celebrate the release of Mughrabi’s body.
The pamphlet was sent from the PA’s “ideological and organic” department, which is led by Chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmad Qurei, who has been overseeing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks initiated at last November’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis summit.
According to PA sources, preparations are under way for Mughrabi to be buried in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, which is home to the Church of the Nativity, the believed birthplace of Jesus.
In a controversial deal, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government last weekend agreed to a prisoner swap with the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group under which Israeli army reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – kidnapped by Hezbollah in a 2006 raid – will be released in exchangee for Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar and four captured Lebanese guerrillas.
Hezbollah’s border raid and abduction of Regev and Goldwasser sparked Israel’s 2006 war against the terrorist group in Lebanon. Last weekend, Olmert told the Knesset that Israeli intelligence agencies strongly believe the two soldiers were killed during the Hezbollah raid.
Kuntar is currently serving four life sentences in an Israeli prison for murdering four Israelis in a 1979 terror attack in northern Israel.
As part of the exchange, Israel will provide Hezbollah with information regarding four missing Iranian diplomats and also release an unspecified number of Palestinian prisoners, and apparently, Mughrabi’s body.
The deal was opposed by all of Israel’s major intelligence agencies, including the Mossad and the Shin Bet Security Services.
Security officials argued the exchange will encourage further kidnapping and also endanger Israelis kidnapped in the future, since terrorists will learn Israel will pay a high price for dead soldiers. The deal is also expected to raise the price Hamas will demand for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The security officials also opposed the deal because they said it empowers Hezbollah and the group’s Iranian and Syrian backers. As well, security officials argued, the deal allows Hezbollah to expand its scope of influence, since Kuntar is a member of a Palestinian terrorist group and since Israel agreed to release Palestinian prisoners as part of the exchange.
Hezbollah has already painted the exchange as a “victory,” while the Lebanese government said today the deal marked a “big failure” for Israel.
“This deal … is a new and clear condemnation for Israel, its tactics and its policies,” said a Lebanese government statement last week.
Israel is known for going to extreme measures to secure the return of soldiers or their remains. The Israeli government argues such exchanges are necessary to demonstrate to soldiers they will not be left behind.
Prisoner swap ‘major victory for resistance’
Israel’s prisoner swap deal with Hezbollah is a “major achievement” and “victory for the resistance in its confrontation with the Zionist authority,” a senior Palestinian terrorist told WND in an interview last week.
Muhammad Abdel-Al, a leader and spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization, which is one of three groups holding kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, said he learned from the Israel-Hezbollah deal the Jewish state is willing to pay a “very high price” for kidnapped soldiers.
“We will demand more for Shalit … of course we see the value of abducting Zionist soldiers. Our resistance will do everything possible to kidnap more,” Abdel-Al said.
“The deal gives us hope and confidence that our prisoners – those who have a big number of years and life sentences – will soon released,” the terrorist added.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.