Park Hotel Attack Mastermind Receives Largest-ever Sentence

Zvi Harel
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Zvi Harel

The Tel Aviv District Court yesterday sentenced Abbas al-Sayed to the longest prison term in Israeli history for involvement in two deadly attacks in which 35 Israelis were killed.

The court sentenced Al-Sayed, who heads Hamas' military wing in the West Bank city of Tul Karm, to 35 consecutive life sentences for the two attacks he had been convicted of masterminding: the Passover eve suicide bombing in Netanya's Park Hotel in March 2002, which killed 30 Israelis, and a suicide attack in Netanya's Hasharon Mall in May 2001, which killed five Israelis.

Some 250 people were wounded in the two attacks.

In addition to sentencing Al-Sayed to a life sentence for every person killed in the two attacks, the court sentenced him to an additional 50 years for other offenses, including attempted murder, and for membership in a terrorist organization.

The court found that he had ordered his nephew, Tarek Zaidan, to procure a bottle of cyanide for him so he could use it in a mass-casualty attack.

He told Zaidan following the Park Hotel bombing that he planned to use the cyanide in his next attack.

Al-Sayed, 40, is married with two children, and his family lives in Tul Karm.

In addition to directing the local chapter of Hamas' military wing - in which capacity he initiated, organized and directed terror attacks inside Israel - he also served as the organization's spokesman, and played a senior role in the movement's leadership.

Al-Sayed maintained contact with Hamas leaders in Syria, and received tens of thousands of dollars from them with which to finance Hamas activity.

The court found that Al-Sayed was involved in planning the Park Hotel bombing down to the most minute details, from checking the bomber's explosives belt to helping him write his will and making a video of him reading it.