Rehavam Ze'evi murder mastermind convicted

Majdi Rahima Rimawi, 43, convicted of murder for sending two PFLP gunmen to kill minister.

rehavam zeevi 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset)
rehavam zeevi 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy: Knesset)
Majdi Rahima Rimawi, the man who planned, ordered and organized the assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001, was convicted Tuesday on five separate charges for his part in the assassination and four other terrorist attacks in the months leading up to it. The decision was handed down in Jerusalem District Court by a panel of three judges, Ya'acov Tsaban, Gila Canfi-Steinitz and Rafi Carmel. The court unanimously convicted the 43-year-old Rimawi of training with weapons, attempted murder (several counts) and murder. He will be sentenced at a later date. Two of the other defendants in Ze'evi's murder at the Hyatt Hotel near Mount Scopus in Jerusalem on October 17, 2001, have already been convicted and given life sentences. "There were five charges in which Rimawi played a similar role according to the description of events [in the indictment]," Tsaban wrote. "His involvement was behind the scenes - planning, supervision and giving orders. The actual implementers of the attacks were told to obtain his permission before acting and to report to him after executing the attacks. The evidence of his involvement is primarily based on statements made by the others involved in the attacks, his emissaries, who described to the police and the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] how the attacks were perpetrated, including the role of the defendant." In all of the cases, except for Ze'evi's assassination, Rimawi operated in the same fashion. He recruited one man personally and asked him to find a partner. The partner did not know that Rimawi was behind the terrorist attack. The first four attacks involved shootings at Israeli cars and bombings in residential and commercial areas. Many people were wounded in the explosions. On August 27, 2001, during the second intifada, the IAF killed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Mustafa Zibri, aka Abu Ali Mustafa, in his Ramallah office. According to the charge sheet, the terrorist organization decided to avenge his death by killing a senior Israeli figure. Rimawi instructed Hamdi Quran to carry out the assassination, gave him a forged passport and identity card, and told him to scout the Hyatt Hotel. He also gave him money to rent a room at the hotel, to locate Ze'evi's room and to find an escape route. After reporting back to his superior, Rimawi told Quran to find two accomplices. He prepared false identity cards for them and gave Quran two pistols. On the morning of October 17, 2001, Quran and one of his accomplices waited for Ze'evi to return to his room from breakfast and shot him three times in the chest outside his door just before 7 a.m. Rimawi's lawyer, Mahmud Hassan, argued during the trial that all the evidence against his client was based on the testimony of the others involved in the assassination during interrogations by the police and the Shin Bet. He claimed that the statements were too similar and that they had probably been coordinated by the security forces. However, the court rejected the argument. The judges also maintained that even though Rimawi did not actively participate in the murder, he shared in the collective responsibility for it. The state's representative, attorney Geula Cohen, told the court that Rimawi should be sentenced for each charge separately, and that the court should determine the number of years Rimawi would serve according to the aggregate.