Rehavam Ze'evi's killer gets life

PFLP man also convicted of 5 other terror offenses; mother hoping for peace deal, son's release.

rehavam zeevi 224.88 (photo credit: Rehavam Ze'evi memorial site)
rehavam zeevi 224.88
(photo credit: Rehavam Ze'evi memorial site)
The assassin of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi was sentenced Monday to two life terms in prison and an additional 100 years by the Jerusalem District Court. Hamdi Quran, 33, pleaded guilty in August for the only Palestinian assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister in the state's history. He was taken into Israeli custody last year and put on trial after international monitors left the West Bank prison where he was previously held. Ze'evi was gunned down outside his Jerusalem hotel room on October 17, 2001 as he returned to his room after breakfasting with his wife. His killers quickly fled the scene, escaping to the nearby West Bank as part of their well-planned attack. Ze'evi was rushed to Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, but was pronounced dead about two hours later after all resuscitation efforts failed. Quran told the court he was instructed by a member of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to murder Ze'evi in the beginning of 2001, contradicting previous claims by the small terror organization that they had carried out the murder in retaliation for Israel's killing of a PFLP leader in his Ramallah office weeks earlier. That assassinated terrorist had been behind a series of bombings. The assassin, who never expressed remorse, testified in court that after spotting Ze'evi in the hotel's dining room, he and his accomplice, fellow PFPL member Basel al-Asmar, took their positions near the elevator on the floor of Ze'evi's room, where they shot him three times in the head before fleeing. "Murdering a minister differs from murdering an ordinary citizen by the fact that it constitutes direct harm to a symbol of the State and harms its sovereignty," the three-judge panel wrote in their sentencing. "Not only has the defendant shown no remorse for his actions, but he has declared before the court that he would not hesitate to repeat them." After the murder, Quran was incarcerated by Palestinian police in Jericho under British and American supervision in accordance with a 2002 deal reached between President Bush and the former prime minister Ariel Sharon, after he and several other suspects in the assassination were surrounded by IDF forces during a raid in Ramallah. Last year, Israel decided to capture Quran and four other alleged cell members involved in the killing due to the PA's violation of agreements concerning their imprisonment. But, in an unexpected legal blow, Israel's attorney general ruled that there was insufficient evidence to try the PFLP leader Ahmed Saadat, who was also nabbed in the raid.