Ahmad Sa'adat (also transliterated from Arabic as Ahmed Sadat/Saadat, Arabic: احمد سعدات) (born in 1953 in West Bank village of al-Bireh) is a Palestinian militant in the and Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a left-wing, Palestinian nationalist organisation. Sa'adat graduated in 1975 from the UNRWA Teachers College, Ramallah, specializing in Mathematics.
Saadat became the Secretary-General of the PFLP in October 2001. He succeeded Abu Ali Mustafa to the post, after Mustafa was assassinated by Israelis at his office in Ramallah in the West Bank. He believes in the right of return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants back to their former homes.
He was imprisoned in Jericho by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in 2002. In March 2006, the US and British team in charge of monitoring the prison left because of poor security conditions. Israeli forces subsequently carried out the so-called Operation Bringing Home the Goods, arrested Sa'adat and took him to Israel; he is currently in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison and on hunger strike.
Imprisonment by Palestinians
Sa'adat was accused by Israel of organizing the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister, Rehavam Ze'evi, who was killed on 17 October 2001. He took refuge in the Muqata'a headquarters of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who refused to hand him over to Israel.
After negotiations involving the United States and the Britain, an agreement was reached between Israel and the PNA. Israel called off the siege of the Muqata'a, and Sa'adat was arrested, given a military trial and put in a Palestinian jail in Jericho, with a force of US and British guards overseeing his captivity. He was not allowed to run for political office, give interviews or address the public, although these bans were occasionally circumvented or ignored.
The Palestinian Supreme Court declared that Sa'adat's imprisonment was unconstitutional, and ordered his release, but the PNA has refused to comply. Amnesty International has declared that this, and the fact that he received an unfair trial, makes his detention illegal, and that he must either be charged with a crime and given due process, or released.
Imprisonment by Israel
On 14 March 2006, the US and Britain withdrew monitors from the Jericho jail where Saadat was being held. Israeli forces then launched Operation Bringing Home the Goods, surrounding the prison to prevent the escape of Saadat. In the ensuing stand-off, Palestinian guards left the prison but 200 prisoners refused to surrender.
A ten hour standoff broke out, with Israeli soldiers besieging the prison and clashing with Palestinian Authority security personnel, as Sa'adat and five other prisoners barricaded themselves inside. During the course of the standoff, two Palestinian security officers were killed and 28 wounded, and Sa'adat eventually ordered his men to lay down their arms and surrender. Israeli military forces took Sa'adat and the five other inmates into custody. After his arrest, he was interrogated by the Israeli security service Shin Bet.
On 25 December 2008, an Israeli military court sentenced Ahmad Sa'adat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), to 30 years in prison for heading an "illegal terrorist organization" and for his responsibility for all actions carried out by his organization, particularly for the murder of Rehavam Ze'evi. The judges said that:
"There is no doubt that the accused controls the PFLP. When we consider the appropriate sentence for someone who headed a murderous terrorist organization, we take into account not only his position, but his actions as well. The offenses the accused has been convicted of indicate that he initiated and participated in military activity with the aim of killing innocent people."
There was speculation that Hamas was attempting to include Sa'adat among the Palestinian prisoners released in October 2011 in a swap for the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. According to BBC, Israel refused to include Sa'adat in the final deal.
On 27 September 2011, Ahmad Sa'adat, Secretary General of PFLP and other members of the PFLP, (hundreds according to an Amnesty International report) imprisoned in Israeli jails, began a hunger strike, to protest against worsening Israeli prison policies and solitary confinement. The hunger strike was overshadowed by the deal agreed between Hamas and Israel for the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit. The prisoners' swap deal left out Ahmad Sa'adat. Sa'adat and the other PFLP prisoners ended their hunger strike on 17th of October 2011, the 21st day, after Israeli prison authorities agreed to end the practice of solitary confinement.
Sa'adat is married to Abla Saadat, and together they have four children, two boys and two girls.
- "Militant group shuns Arafat". BBC. 2 February 2002.
- "Israel/Occupied Territories/Palestinian Authority : Ahmad Sa'adat must be released and his safety ensured". Index Number: MDE 15/096/2002: Amnesty International. 12 June 2002. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- "Palestinian Militants Surrender After Israeli Prison Clash". Fox News. 14 March 2006.
- "Israel sentences PFLP leader to 30 years in prison". Ynet News. 26 December 2008.
- Danahar, Paul (12 October 2010). "Timing key to Shalit release deal". BBC News. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
- "Israel-Hamas prisoner swap casts harsh light on detention practices of all sides". Amnesty International. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2012.
- "Minister: Detainees suspend strike after deal on isolation". Ma'an News Agency. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- 'Palestinians need to act collectively': Abla Saadat in interview, Ahram, Saturday 25 May 2013