AJC Denounces PA Minister's 'Disgraceful' Remarks Over Israel Prison Fire Rescue

Dec 07, 2010, 13:23 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC strongly  condemned the remarks of a Palestinian Authority Minister who  accused the Israeli authorities of being deliberately slow to rescue Palestinian inmates of the Damon prison, after their lives were  endangered by the forest fire which has engulfed the north of the country. As has been widely reported, 41 Israeli prison guards were incinerated in a bus as they raced to the beleaguered prison.

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"No accusation is apparently too base," said AJC  Executive Director David Harris. "Instead of saluting the courage of  the Israeli prison guards who gave their lives in a mission to  rescue Palestinians jailed for terrorism, PA television broadcasts  the PA Deputy Minister of Prisoners,  Ziyad Abu Ein, promoting this insulting conspiracy theory. We  urge President Abbas to publicly reprimand Abu Ein and to issue an  apology, with particular focus on the families of the deceased, for  these disgraceful remarks."

 Abu  Ein's comments were broadcast on PA Television on December 2. The  monitoring organization Palestinian  Media Watch circulated the  English translation of Abu Ein's remarks as follows:

PA TV  host: Do you have  information about the response speed of the Israeli Prison Service  in transferring the female prisoners from the Israeli prison, or did  they take their time and create a lag?

Minister  Abu Ein: Yes, they created a lag and our [Palestinian]  prisoners were endangered. Had there not been Israeli criminals or  Jewish prisoners in this particular prison, it would have been even  slower... If, heaven forbid, this fire had been in the  Negev, Nafha or Be'er Sheva prisons (for  Palestinian security prisoners only, -ed.), there would have been an  even greater danger, but the presence of hundreds of Israeli  prisoners in this prison [Damon] spurred the ending [of the fire]  and the evacuation of the prisoners. But still it was very  slow.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee