A Palestinian woman convicted of luring a love-struck Israeli boy into a fatal trap set by militants arrived in Ankara with 10 others yesterday after unexpectedly refusing to go to Gaza following her release as part of a Hamas-Israeli prisoner swap.
Amina Muna, a member of al-Fatah, joined 10 Palestinian men released from Israeli jails this week on the flight from Cairo to Ankara, where they were met by Palestinian Ambassador to Ankara Nabil Maarouf and Turkish Foreign Ministry officials. Only the 10 men were expected in Ankara, but Muna was added to the passenger list at the last moment when she refused to go to Gaza, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned.
The arrivals made the V-for-victory signs when they disembarked their plane at Esenboğa Airport and prostrated themselves in an Islamic religious gesture of gratitude. Speaking at the airport after their arrival, Maarouf said the ex-prisoners would undergo a health check-up and added that Turkish authorities would decide where the Palestinians would stay in Turkey and for how long. Turkish officials are planning to keep the arrivals out of the public eye to protect their security.
The 11 Palestinians were among the first batch of 477 detainees freed on Oct. 18 after Israel agreed to release over 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was held in captivity by Hamas for over five years. Forty of the 477 were deemed too dangerous to remain on Israel’s doorstep and were sent into exile. In addition to Muna, former female prisoner Wafa al-Bass also refused to go to Gaza, causing a delay in the implementation of the swap agreement.
Palestine minister thanks Turkey
Muna, who is known as the “Internet assassin,” was jailed for life in 2003 for luring Israeli teenager Ofir Rahum, 16, into believing that she was a newly arrived American. In 2001 Muna allegedly persuaded him to meet her in Jerusalem where she drove him to the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah where two al-Fatah members, Hassan al-Qadi and Abdul Fattah Dawla, allegedly shot him at close range. Meanwhile, Palestine Economy Minister Hasan Abu-Libdeh told the Daily News yesterday that they were thankful to the Turkish people and government for receiving Turkey’s constant support in political and economic terms. “Turkey has opened its arms to [Palestinians released in exchange for Shalit]; we always need Turkey’s open arms,” Abu-Libdeh said in Istanbul, adding that Turkey had made significant contributions in the swap deal. Turkey’s support to the Palestinians will continue until the embargo against Gaza ends, Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said.
Nurdan Bozkurt contributed to this report from Istanbul.