Rehavam Ze'evi Assassin Jailed for Two Life Terms Plus 100 Years

Hamdi Qur'an convicted of 2001 murder of Israeli minister and five other counts of attempted murder.

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday sentenced the Palestinian assassin of former minister Rehavam Ze'evi to two life terms and an additional 100 years for bombing and shooting attacks against other Israelis.

Hamdi Qur'an was convicted of the 2001 murder and other terror activities. He was taken into Israeli custody in 2006, after international monitors left the Jericho Prison, where he had been held.

Qur'an, a gunman from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian, confessed during his trial that he pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Ze'evi.

"The murder of a minister is not just the murder of a person, but also a blow to a symbol of the state and its sovereignty. All of [Qur'an's] activities were carried out purposefully and with the intention of causing the most possible damage to residents of the state," the court wrote in its sentencing decision.

The decision described how Qur'an joined the PFLP in 2001, shortly after the outbreak of the second Intifada the previous year.

Along with other PFLP operatives, Quran planted explosive devices, including car bombs, and carried out shooting attacks, wounding 27 Israeli civilians, according to the court documents.

In the fall of 2001, after Israel killed the PFLP's leader, the group decided to avenge his death by killing Ze'evi, according to court documents. Ze'evi, a former army general and leader of a small ultranationalist party, advocated harsh military action against the Palestinians. He also called for the eviction of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, a view most Israelis consider extreme.

Qur'an obtained two pistols and an automatic rifle, smuggled them into the hotel along with accomplices, and waited for Zeevi near his room. The minister, 75, emerged from the elevator and passed Quran in the corridor, Quran called out to him, and when Zeevi turned around, Quran killed him with three shots, the documents said.

Quran managed to escape, and Palestinian authorities refused to hand him over to Israel. As a compromise, he was held in a Palestinian prison in the town of Jericho until last year, when international observers overseeing the facility left abruptly. The Israel Defense Forces surrounded the prison and seized Qur'an and other Palestinians wanted by Israeli authorities, and took him to Israel to stand trial.

Qur'an never expressed regret for his actions. "I am being tried because I carried out my basic right to defend my nation against the Israeli occupation - the same right that you grant yourselves daily, to kill us, the Palestinians," Qur'an said.

"I blame you for activities against all of humanity," Qur'an continued.

Khalida Jarar, a Palestinian lawmaker from the PFLP, said Qur'an was not a criminal but a freedom fighter.

"We Palestinians don't see this as a criminal act. We see it as our right to fight the occupation," she said.