Passover massacre

Coordinates: 32°19′57″N 34°51′03″E / 32.33250°N 34.85083°E / 32.33250; 34.85083
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Passover massacre
Part of the Second Intifada
The dining hall of the Park Hotel following the attack
Passover massacre is located in Central Israel
Passover massacre
The attack site
LocationPark Hotel, Netanya, Israel
Coordinates32°19′57″N 34°51′03″E / 32.33250°N 34.85083°E / 32.33250; 34.85083
Date27 March 2002; 22 years ago (2002-03-27)
19:30 pm (GMT+2)
Attack type
Suicide bomber
Deaths30 civilians (+1 assailant)
Injured140 civilians
PerpetratorHamas claimed responsibility

The Passover massacre[1] was a suicide bombing carried out by Hamas[2] at the Park Hotel in Netanya, Israel on 27 March 2002, during a Passover seder. 30 civilians were killed in the attack and 140 were injured. It was the deadliest attack against Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.[3]

The attack

Park Hotel in Netanya. Photo taken in 2012

During the Jewish holiday of Passover in 2002, Park Hotel in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya held its traditional annual Passover seder for its 250 guests, in the hotel dining room located at the ground floor of the hotel.[citation needed]

On the evening of 27 March 2002, a Palestinian bomber, Abdel-Basset Odeh [ar] (or Abd Al-Baset Odeh), disguised as a woman approached the hotel carrying a suitcase which contained powerful explosives. The suicide bomber managed to pass the security guard at the entrance to a hotel, then he walked through the lobby passing the reception desk and entered the hotel's crowded dining room.[citation needed]

At 19:30 (GMT+2) the suicide bomber detonated the explosive device he was carrying. The force of the explosion instantly killed 28 civilians and injured about 140 people, of whom 20 were injured severely. Two of the injured later died from their wounds. Some of the victims were Holocaust survivors.[4][5][6]

Most of the victims were senior citizens (70 and over). The oldest victim was 90 and the youngest was 20 years old. A number of married couples were killed, as well as a father together with his daughter. One of the victims was a Jewish tourist from Sweden who was visiting Israel for Passover.[7]

Seventy-three of the 140 injured in the attack were evacuated to Laniado Hospital in neighboring Kiryat Sanz, Netanya. Although established as a regional hospital, Laniado had established a trauma center and emergency protocol in the wake of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in the Netanya area during the Second Intifada. In addition to medical teams, the hospital benefited from the volunteerism of Hasidim living in Kiryat Sanz, who donated blood, carried stretchers, and otherwise assisted the medical staff.[8]

According to the indictment filed in the Tel Aviv court, the initial plot for the Passover massacre included the use of cyanide;[9] 4 kg of cyanide had been bought and prepared for a chemical attack.[10] Tarak Zidan[dubious ] had been recruited to Hamas, and during 1997 he researched the use of chlorine and other nerve agents to be used in terror attacks. In 2002, 4 kg of chlorine had been bought and packed for the attack. For unknown reasons it was not used and passed to Abbas al-Sayyid [ar] instead.[11]

Hamas response

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomber was identified as Abdel-Basset Odeh [ar] (Abd Al-Baset Odeh), a 25-year-old from the nearby West Bank city of Tulkarm. Hamas spokesman Usama Hamdan said that "This is a trial (attempt) to send a letter, to send a message, to all the world that we are trying to fight for our own freedom against a terrorist government in Israel led by Sharon" and that Israelis "have to expect those attacks from everywhere, from every Palestinian group."[12] Another Hamas spokesperson Abdel Aziz Rantisi said "[a]s long as there is occupation, there will be a resistance" and denied that the attack was timed to coincide with the peace initiative of the Saudi government at the Beirut Summit, an initiative rejected by Hamas.[13]

Official reactions

Israeli government spokesman Gideon Meir related to the attack saying "what we had tonight was a Passover massacre" and added "There is no limit to Palestinian barbarism."[14] Palestinian Authority officials "strongly condemned" the attack.[15] Palestinian President Yasser Arafat personally ordered the arrests of militants associated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as a response.[16] During a television broadcast on the Palestinian TV channel, Arafat praised the Palestinian people for the current popular uprising against Israel, but stressed that "We are against killing civilians on both sides".[17]

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah condemned it,[18] while also commenting that "I will add to this by saying to the Israeli people that if their government stopped its methods of violence and destruction, and agreed to real peace, we will not hesitate in accepting that Israel live in peace with the rest of the nations in the region."[19] Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General stated that he condemned suicide bombings against Israeli civilians as morally repugnant.[20] President of the United States George W. Bush condemned the attack and called on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority to do everything in their power to stop the terrorist killing.[21]

US Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that the bombing set the peace process back but vowed to continue.[12]



In his response to the Arab Peace Initiative adopted at the Arab League's summit in Beirut, Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Shimon Peres noted that "... the details of every peace plan must be discussed directly between Israel and the Palestinians, and to make this possible, the Palestinian Authority must put an end to terror, the horrifying expression of which we witnessed just last night in Netanya."[22]

Israeli retaliation

The attack was perceived in Israel as the high point of a bloody month in which more than 135 Israelis, mostly civilians, were killed in terror attacks.[23][24][25]

Following the Passover massacre attack the Israeli government declared a state of emergency, ordered the immediate recruitment of 20,000 reservists in an emergency call-up, and in the following day launched the large-scale counter-terrorism operation Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank which took place between 29 March and 10 May.[26]

Qeis Adwan, head of the suicide bombing network responsible for the massacre,[27] was killed by IDF forces on 5 April 2002[28] during Operation Defensive Shield, after the IDF and the Yamam caught him in Tubas, some 70 kilometers north of Jerusalem. An armored IDF Caterpillar D9 bulldozer toppled the house where he was hiding, after he was given a chance to surrender and refused.[29]

Arrests and killings of perpetrators

One of the two chief planners of the attack, Qais Adwan, a Hamas member who was involved in numerous attacks in which a total of 77 people were killed, was killed in a shootout with the IDF during Operation Defensive Shield.[30] In May 2002, Israeli forces arrested the other chief planner, Abbas al-Sayyid [ar]. On 22 September 2005, al-Sayed was convicted of the Passover attack and also of ordering the May 2001 bombing of a Netanya mall. He received 35 life sentences for each murder victim and additional time for those who were wounded.

Fathi Khatib, who transported the bomber to his target, Mohand Sharim, who financed the operation and helped hide the bomber, Muammar Abu Sheikh, who recruited the bomber to Hamas and transferred the explosive belts used in the attack to an explosives expert for examination, and Nasser Yatiya, who helped transport the explosive belts, were tried and convicted together in an Israeli military court in April 2003 and handed 29 life sentences.[31] Nasser Yatiya was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011. Muhammad Taher, who prepared the explosive charges, was killed in a clash with Israeli Shayetet 13 naval commandos in June 2003.

On 26 March 2008 Hamas commander Omar Jabar, suspected of helping organize the attack, was arrested in Tulkarem by IDF troops of the Nahshon Battalion.[32] In March 2013 he was convicted over his role and sentenced to 30 years in prison.[33]

In September 2009, Muhammad Harwish, a senior Hamas militant and a planner of the Passover Massacre, was arrested by the Border Police's elite Yamam counter-terror squad in his home village along with an aide, Adnan Samara.[34]

Soccer tournament

In 2003, the Palestinian Authority sponsored a soccer tournament, Tulkarm Shahids Memorial Soccer Championship Tournament of the Shahid Abd Al-Baset Odeh [ar], describing the perpetrator as a "shahid" ("martyr").[35][36][37] 71% of Palestinians polled about the tournament approved of naming it in honor of the bomber.[38]

See also


  1. ^ Sources describing the incident as the "Passover massacre":
    • "Alleged Passover massacre plotter arrested", CNN, 26 March 2008.
    • Ohad Gozani, "Hotel blast survivors relive the Passover massacre", The Daily Telegraph, 29 March 2002.
    • "This reached a peak following the Passover massacre in the seaside resort of Netanya..." David Newman, "The consequence or the cause? Impact on the Israel-Palestine Peace Process", in Mary E.A. Buckley, Mary Buckley, Rick Fawn. Global Responses to Terrorism: 9/11, the War in Afghanistan, and Beyond, Routledge, 2003; ISBN 0-415-31429-1, p. 158.
    • "They faced stiff resistance from Palestinian gunmen who began preparing the camp's defenses as early as the Passover massacre in Netanya..." Todd C. Helmus, Russell W. Glenn. Steeling the Mind: Combat Stress Reactions and Their Implications for Urban Warfare Rand Corporation, 2005; ISBN 0-8330-3702-1, p. 58.
    • "It can therefore be asked whether the 'human bomb' offensive starting with the Passover massacre on 27 March 2002..." Brigitte L. Nacos, "The Terrorist Calculus Behind 9–11: A Model for Future Terrorism?" in Gus Martin. The New Era of Terrorism: Selected Readings, Sage Publications Inc, 2004; ISBN 0-7619-8873-4, p. 176.
  2. ^ Israel seals off territories for Passover,, 16 April 2003.
  3. ^ "Ten years after Passover blast, survivors return to Park Hotel". The Times of Israel. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  4. ^ Patience, Martin. "Israelis wary of Arab peace plan",, 31 March 2007; accessed 28 May 2008.
  5. ^ Ruth Morris and Laura King. "Bombing in Israeli City Injures 56", Los Angeles Times, 31 March 2003.
  6. ^ Linda Grant. "Defenders of the faith", The Guardian, 6 July 2002.
  7. ^ Massacre during Passover Seder in the Park Hotel, Netanya ,; accessed 14 December 2015.
  8. ^ Marks, Yehudah. "Park Hotel Pesach Massacre: 15 years later". Hamodia, 6 April 2017, pp. 18–19.
  9. ^ "מתכנן הפיגוע במלון פארק בנתניה תיכנן גם פיגוע המוני באמצעות ציאניד – גלובס". Globes. August 2002.
  10. ^ "Park Hotel Bombing Mastermind Also Planned Mass Poisoning". Haaretz. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Lessons from Recent Attacks". Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  12. ^ a b "'Passover massacre' at Israeli hotel kills 19" Archived 4 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine. CNN. 27 March 2002.
  13. ^ "Hamas rejects Arab peace overture to Israel, vows to continue attacks", Associated Press, 29 March 2002.
  14. ^ "Breaking, World, US & Local News". NY Daily News. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Arab states agree peace plan". The Telegraph. 28 March 2002. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  16. ^ Israel Considers Response to 'Passover Massacre' Archived 13 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Voice of America. 28 March 2008.
  17. ^ Brinkley, Joel (28 March 2002). "MIDEAST TURMOIL: MIDEAST; BOMB KILLS AT LEAST 19 IN ISRAEL AS ARABS MEET OVER PEACE PLAN". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  18. ^ Mideast Turmoil. The New York Times. 29 March 2002.
  19. ^ Latest suicide attack overshadows Arab summit Archived 5 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Program originally broadcast 28 March 2002.
  21. ^ "BBC: Bush condemns 'callous' killing". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  22. ^ Response of FM Peres to the decisions of the Arab Summit in Beirut, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; accessed 14 December 2015.
  23. ^ Ophir Falk and Henry Morgenstein: Suicide terror: understanding and confronting the threat
  24. ^ List of Second Intifada casualties B'Tselem (see the 01.03.2002–31.03.2002 period)
  25. ^ Fence or Offense? Testing the Effectiveness of "The Fence" in Judea and Samaria Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Bar-Ilan University website; accessed 14 December 2015.
  26. ^ Harel, Amos; Avi Isacharoff (2004). The Seventh War. Tel-Aviv: Yedioth Aharonoth Books and Chemed Books. pp. 274–275. ISBN 978-965-511-767-7.
  27. ^ "Keis Adwan, the hub of the northern Samaria network, had also lost a number of close associates in Israeli security forces operations (Rubin 2002)". Pedahzur, Ami. Perliger, Arie. "The Changing Nature of Suicide Attacks – A Social Network Perspective", Social Forces – Volume 84, Number 4, University of North Carolina Press, June 2006, pp. 1987–2008.
  28. ^ "ynet רשימת המוות של המבוקש קייס עדואן – חדשות". ynet. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  29. ^ "The Most Wanted Palestinian". The New York Times. 30 June 2002. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  30. ^ "רשימת המוות של המבוקש קייס עדואן". Ynet.
  31. ^ "29 מאסרי עולם לחוליה שביצעה הפיגוע במלון "פרק"". Ynet.
  32. ^ "Israel Passover bomb suspect held". BBC News. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  33. ^ "30 שנות מאסר לאחרון המעורבים בפיגוע במלון פרק" (in Hebrew). 8 April 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  34. ^ "Israel Nabs Hamas Man Allegedly Tied to Park Hotel Massacre". Haaretz. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  35. ^ Itamar Marcus. "Football tournament honors suicide terrorists". Palestinian media watch. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  36. ^ Cole, Leonard A (2007). Terror: How Israel has Coped and What America Can Learn. Indiana University Press. p. 186; ISBN 978-0-253-34918-7
  37. ^ Cole, Leonard A. (23 May 2007). Terror: How Israel Has Coped and What America Can Learn. Indiana University Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0253000019.
  38. ^ "Palestinian Poll". Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2009.

External links