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.
"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