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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Charges over Israel assassination
Four PFLP members have been charged with the Zeevi killing
The four accused PFLP members could face life in jail
An Israeli court has charged four Palestinians with the killing of an Israeli minister five years ago.

The suspects were snatched by the Israeli army from a jail in the West Bank town of Jericho in March.

They are alleged to have shot Rehavam Zeevi, a hardliner who advocated deporting Palestinians from the occupied territories.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said the assassination was revenge for the killing of its leader.

The PFLP's new leader, Ahmed Saadat - who was captured in Jericho at the same time as the four - is also blamed by Israeli officials for the killing, but they have failed to find enough evidence to link him to the case.

However Mr Saadat is due to face unspecified and unrelated security charges in an Israeli military court.

Fatal shot

The four men who have been charged include Bassel al-Asmar, the man alleged to have fired the shot that killed Rehavam Zeevi in a Jerusalem hotel in October 2001.

PFLP leader Saadat was captured in March after a raid on Jericho jail
PFLP leader Saadat has not been charged with killing Zeevi

Madji al-Rimawi is accused of driving the car used in the operation.

Two other members of the leftist PFLP, Hamdi Quraan and Ahed Ghulmeh, were also charged in a Jerusalem district court.

The operation to capture the four and Mr Saadat in March was highly controversial.

Israeli troops raided the jail claiming the Hamas government - elected in January - was planning to free the prisoners.

The raid came hours after US and UK monitors withdrew from the jail, complaining of poor security arrangements.

The PFLP members initially resisted arrest by the Israeli troops. He had been kept in a jail in the West Bank town of Jericho under a deal Israel struck with a Palestinian administration led by the late Yasser Arafat.

The day-long operation to take him and several fellow inmates into Israeli custody sparked protests across the West Bank and Gaza.

Several US and European citizens were briefly kidnapped by Palestinian militants and offices and property associated with their countries were attacked.

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