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Passover massacre

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. Thirty civilians were killed in the attack and 140 were injured. It was the deadliest attack against Israelis during the Second Intifada.[3]

Park Hotel Passover attack
Part of the Second Intifada terror campaign
The attack site is located in Central Israel
The attack site
The attack site
Coordinates32°19′57″N 34°51′03″E / 32.33250°N 34.85083°E / 32.33250; 34.85083
Date27 March 2002
19:30 pm (GMT+2)
Attack type
Suicide bomber
Deaths30 civilians (+ 1 perpetrator)
140 civilians
PerpetratorsHamas claimed responsibility

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.

On the evening of 27 March 2002, a Palestinian bomber, Abdel-Basset Odeh (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.

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]

The 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 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 instead.[11]


Passover massacre memorial – Ramat Hasharon
  • Shula Abramovitch, 63, of Holon[12]
  • David Anichovitch, 70, of Netanya[13]
  • Alter Britvich, 88, of Netanya[14]
  • Frieda Britvich, 86, of Netanya[15]
  • Andre Fried, 47, of Netanya[16]
  • Idit Fried, 47, of Netanya[17]
  • Dvora Karim, 73, of Netanya[18]
  • Michael Karim, 78, of Netanya[19]
  • Eliezer Korman, 74, of Ramat HaSharon[20]
  • Yehudit Korman, 70, of Ramat HaSharon[21]
  • St.-Sgt. Sivan Vider, 20, of Bekaot[22]
  • Ze'ev Vider, 50, of Bekaot[23]
  • Ernest Weiss, 80, of Petah Tikva[24]
  • Eva Weiss, 75, of Petah Tikva[25]
  • Anna Yakobovitch, 78, of Holon[26]
  • George Yakobovitch, 76, of Holon[27]
Additional victims
  • Sgt.-Maj. Avraham Beckerman, 25, of Ashdod[28]
  • Shimon Ben-Aroya, 42, of Netanya[29]
  • Miriam Gutenzgan (Gottsegen), 82, Ramat Gan[30]
  • Amiram Hamami, 44, of Netanya[31]
  • Perla Hermele, 79, of Stockholm, Sweden[32]
  • Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, 77, of Netanya[33]
  • Lola Levkovitch, 70, of Jerusalem[34]
  • Sarah Levy-Hoffman, 89, of Tel Aviv[35]
  • Furuk Na'imi, 62, of Netanya[36]
  • Eliahu Nakash, 85, of Tel Aviv[37]
  • Chanah Rogan, 90, of Netanya[38]
  • Irit Rashel, 45, of Moshav Herev La'et[39]
  • Clara Rosenberger, 77, of Jerusalem[40]
  • Yulia Talmi, 87, of Tel Aviv[41]

The perpetrators

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomber was identified as Abdel-Basset Odeh (Abd Al-Baset Odeh), a 25-year-old from the nearby West Bank city of Tulkarm. Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi said, "As 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 Arabian government at the Beirut Summit, an initiative rejected by Hamas.[42]

Official reactions

Involved parties


  • 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."[43]

  Palestinian territories:

  • Palestinian National Authority: Palestinian Authority officials "strongly condemned" the attack.[44]
  • During a television broadcast on the Palestinian TV channel, Yasser Arafat praised the Palestinian people for the current popular uprising against Israel, but stressed that "We are against killing civilians on both sides".[45]
  • The Zionist Organization of America and Palestinian Media Watch reported that the Palestinian Authority sponsored a soccer tournament named the "Tulkarm Shahids Memorial soccer championship tournament of the Shahid Abd Al-Baset Odeh" describing the perpetrator as a "shahid" (Martyr), claiming this promotes and glorifies terrorism. [46][47] 71% of Palestinians polled about this event approved of naming a soccer tournament in honor of the bomber. [48]
  •   United States: 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.[50]


In his response to the Saudi initiative adopted at the Beirut Summit, 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."[51]

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.[52][53][54]

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.[55]

Qeis Adwan, head of the suicide bombing network responsible for the massacre,[56] was killed by IDF forces on 5 April 2002[57] 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.[58]

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.[59] In May 2002, Israeli forces arrested the other chief planner, Abbas al-Sayed. 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.[60] 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.[61] In March 2013 he was convicted over his role and sentenced to 30 years in prison.[62]

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.[63]

Soccer Championship Tournament

In 2003, the Palestinian Authority sponsored a soccer tournament, Tulkarm Shahids Memorial Soccer Championship Tournament of the Shahid Abd Al-Baset Odeh, describing the perpetrator as a "shahid" ("martyr").[64][65][66]

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, Rouledge, 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[dead link],; 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".
  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. ^ Shula Abramovitch Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ David Anichovitch Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Alter Britvich Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Frieda Britvich Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Andre Fried Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Idit Fried Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Dvora Karim Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Michael Karim Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Eliezer Korman Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Yehudit Korman Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ St-Sgt Sivan Vider Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Ze-ev Vider Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Ernest Weiss Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Eva Weiss Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Anna Yakobovitch Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ George Yakobovitch Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Sgt-Maj Avraham Beckerman Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Shimon Ben-Aroya Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Miriam Gutenzgan Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Amiram Hamami Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Perla Hermele Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Lola Levkovitch Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Sarah Levy-Hoffman Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Furuk Na-imi Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Eliahu Nakash Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Chanah Rogan Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Irit Rashel Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  40. ^ Clara Rosenberger Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ Yulia Talmi Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "Hamas rejects Arab peace overture to Israel, vows to continue attacks", Associated Press, 29 March 2002.
  43. ^ "Breaking, World, US & Local News". NY Daily News. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  44. ^ "Arab states agree peace plan". 28 March 2002. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  46. ^ Abbas' PA Again Honors Terrorist Who Murdered Israelis
  47. ^ PA Promoting and Glorifying Terrorism and Murder Written and Compiled by Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)
  48. ^ Palestinian Poll
  50. ^ "BBC: Bush condemns 'callous' killing". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  51. ^ Response of FM Peres to the decisions of the Arab Summit in Beirut, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; accessed 14 December 2015.
  52. ^ Ophir Falk and Henry Morgenstein: Suicide terror: understanding and confronting the threat
  53. ^ List of Second Intifada casualties B'Tselem (see the 01.03.2002-31.03.2002 period)
  54. ^ 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.
  55. ^ 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.
  56. ^ "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.
  57. ^ "ynet רשימת המוות של המבוקש קייס עדואן - חדשות". ynet. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  58. ^ "The Most Wanted Palestinian". The New York Times. 30 June 2002. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
  59. ^,7340,L-1815308,00.html
  60. ^,7340,L-2565273,00.html
  61. ^ "Israel Passover bomb suspect held". BBC News. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  62. ^
  63. ^ "Israel Nabs Hamas Man Allegedly Tied to Park Hotel Massacre". Haaretz. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  64. ^ Itamar Marcus. "Football tournament honors suicide terrorists". Palestinian media watch. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  65. ^ 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
  66. ^ Cole, Leonard A. (23 May 2007). Terror: How Israel Has Coped and What America Can Learn. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253000017.

External links