The Supreme Court rejected on Thursday the request of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmad Saadat to be taken out of solitary confinement in prison.
The judges accepted the prosecution's claim, represented by Attorney Hila Gorni, which presented information that Saadat transfers messages to terrorist operatives from within the Israeli jail. Saadat is serving a 30-year prison sentence in Israel for his involvement in the assassination of former Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi nine years ago.
Saadat's name came up many times in the past year in the context of prisoner swap negotiations between Israel and Hamas for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He is one of the senior figures whose release is holding up the deal, along with Fatah's Marwan Barghouti and Hamas' Ibrahim Hamed and Abdullah Barghouti.
Just two weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized "as long as I am prime minister" Saadat will not be released.
Saadat in court. Hopes to be released as part of Shalit deal (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
During Thursday's hearing, Saadat's counsel, Attorney Lea Tsemel claimed that it was unclear why her client is being kept in solitary confinement, and added that if he wanted "to incite" someone, he "long ago could have incited the entire prison population."
According to Tsemel, there is no substantial intelligence showing that Saadat is sending out messages from jail. She claimed that the prosecutions concern are only based on the fact that her client used to use such methods in the past when he would pass on directives to PFLP leaders running the group as he sat in Palestinian jail in Jericho.
Saadat and other wanted men were kidnapped by Israel from the Palestinian jail in 2006. Saadat is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence after being convicted of egregious security offences.
'He is not a junior terrorist'
On the other hand, Attorney Hila Gorni, representing the State, claimed that there is definite and substantial evidence showing that Saadat transferred messages to terrorist operatives while he was in Israeli jail and provided the grounds for separating him from the rest of the prisoners in the first place.
"It seems as though the classified information speaks for itself," she said. "We must remember whom we are talking about. This is no junior terrorist."
After a recess during which the judges reviewed the classified information presented in the case, the panel decided to reject Saadat's appeal. According to Judge Uzi Vogelman, the case is not dealing with something "harmless."
Judge Hanan Melcer added, "This is not political activism."
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish said, "There are messages here that are not simply saying hi to his wife."
Following the hearing, Attorney Tsemel said, "They put Saadat in solitary confinement for a half a year and afterwards kept separately out of political considerations and because Gilad Shalit is being held in jail."
When asked by Ynet prior to the hearing why he was put in solitary confinement, Saadat said, "I know what solitary confinement is. This is my punishment."
Qadri Wassel, a member of the Palestinian monitoring committee for prisoner affairs in Israel who was at the hearing, said to Ynet, "Saadat has been in separation for a long time. He already received his punishment and hopes to be released in the Shalit deal. If he and Barghouti don't get out in the deal, so who will get out?"