The Palestinian terrorists who murdered two Israeli hikers last December were granted a furlough from a Hebron prison and were asked to return a few days later, sources in the West Bank city told Ynet Tuesday, this after the IDF and Shin Bet were looking into a report according to which at least one of the terrorists had escaped.
According to one source, the two were allowed to leave temporarily for fear Israeli forces would break into the prison and arrest them. The terrorists were asked to return to prison after word of their release had reached Israel.
On December 28, 2007 two IDF soldiers on leave, Cpl. Ahikam Amihai (20) and Sgt. David Ruben (21), both residents of the neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba, were killed as they were hiking through the Telem Creek area with a female companion when a group of four Palestinians drove up towards them and opened fire.
Amihai and Ruben, who both served in elite commando units, were reportedly carrying their firearms with them and were able to return fire, killing one of the Palestinian gunmen and seriously wounding another.
The third hiker in the group managed to take cover as the first gunshots were heard and called the Kiryat Arba security headquarters to alert them of the incident.
One of the terrorists was identified as 26-year-old Hebron resident Amar Taha, a Fatah member and a member of the Palestinian national security forces. The other terrorist was named as 24-year-old Hebron resident Ali Dandanes, a court clerk and Fatah member with links to the Palestinian general intelligence.
The two turned themselves in to the Palestinian Authority's general intelligence custody immediately following the attack, for fear of being captured by Israeli security forces.
The PA did not immediately inform Israel that the terrorists were in its custody, but did so only after Shin Bet officials approached Palestinian officials on the matter.
In January a PA court sentenced the terrorists to 15 years in prison.
Israeli security sources have frequently slammed the PA's "revolving door" policy, in which murderers and terrorists are arrested and incarcerated for several days, followed by their release and return to terrorism.
Ali Waked contributed to the report