Court turns down appeal by Hamas arch-terrorist

Abbas al-Sayed orchestrated Park Hotel and Sharon Mall bombings and plotted to use cyanide elsewhere.

Supreme Court 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Supreme Court 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Supreme Court refused on Monday an appeal by Abbas al-Sayed, the senior Hamas operative and mastermind behind the 2002 suicide bombing in Netanya’s Park Hotel and the 2001 Sharon shopping mall terror attack, in which 35 Israelis died and hundreds more were wounded.
Al-Sayed was convicted in 2006 in the Tel Aviv District Court and sentenced to 35 consecutive life sentences for premeditated murder, plus an additional 50 years for causing grievous bodily harm with aggravated intent and for membership in a terrorist organization.
He had appealed against that conviction on the grounds that the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and police had exercised undue force. As a result, al-Sayed claimed, his admissions during his interrogations were not valid.
The Hamas leader also complained that he had been kept in handcuffs during his interrogations and that he had been held in a tiny cell without running water.
However, the panel of three Supreme Court Justices, Neal Hendel, Edmund Levi and Hanan Melzar, said that the Hamas military leader had “stopped at nothing in his plans to murder Jews and Israelis because of their identity, religion and nationality.”
Justice Neal Hendel recalled that that the Park Hotel bombing took place as people celebrated the Passover Seder, “as a community of brotherhood, kindness and spiritual cooperation.”
“Can you imagine a greater disparity between that lofty idealism and the harsh reality?” Hendel said, who also recalled that the haggada the Park Hotel terror victims had been reading at the Passover Seder said that “in every generation they stand up against us to destroy us.”
The indictment originally filed against al-Sayed revealed that he had planned in painstaking detail every aspect of the terror attacks.
Al-Sayad had served as a leader of Hamas’s military wing in Tulkarem, when in 2001 he and several other Hamas activists began to plot a series of suicide attacks that would kill a large number of Israelis.
From his terror cell in Tulkarem, al-Sayed procured explosive belts, intended to be used by suicide bombers. He also recruited men to carry out the bombings and hired drivers to take them to Israel. Several of al-Sayed’s initial attempts to enter Israel and carry out the attacks failed, but on March 27 2002, al-Sayed succeeded in dispatching a suicide bomber, Abdel-Basset Odeh, into the center of Israel.
First, however, al-Sayed helped Odeh write his will, and then made a video of him reading it.
Disguised in woman’s clothing, under which was an explosive belt, Odeh was driven first to Herzliya, then to Tel Aviv. He then decided to carry out the bombing in a Netanya hotel.
Odeh detonated his explosive belt in Netanya’s Park Hotel as guests gathered for a Passover Seder. Thirty Israelis including several Holocaust survivors were murdered in the blast, and 140 more injured, many seriously in what was the deadliest terror attack of the Second Intifada.
The indictment also details how al-Sayed also planned and masterminded another suicide bombing in Netanya’s Sharon Mall.
In addition to his role in planning the attacks, al- Sayed was also convicted of membership in Hamas. As part of his duties as the head of Hamas’s military wing, he communicated with Hamas leadership in Syria, and received tens of thousands of dollars to finance Hamas’s activities, including purchasing arms, explosive belts and chemicals to manufacture explosives.
In February 2002, al-Sayed procured a bottle of cyanide, and intended to use the deadly poison in another attack he was planning, according to the indictment.
However, the Supreme Court dismissed al-Sayed’s claims that he had been mistreated and instead accepted the state’s testimony that he had confessed of his own free will.

Al-Sayed’s involvement in Hamas and in planning the attacks was also backed up by extensive and detailed evidence, which had included cell phone records and testimony of others involved in planning the attacks, the justices said.
Al-Sayed provoked public outrage last year at the start of his Supreme Court appeal, when he said in an interview with Ynet that he felt no remorse for his part in the suicide attacks, which he said were a justified way of “fighting the occupation.”
That outrage increased after Arabic language daily al- Hayat reported in March that Palestinian Minister of Prison Affairs Issa Qaraqeh had presented al-Sayad’s family with a plaque honoring the anniversary of the Park Hotel bombing.