Timeline of events since Ze'evi murder

  • October 2001 - Rehavam Ze'evi, then-minister of tourism, is gunned down by terrorists as he enters his room at Jerusalem's Hyatt Regency Hotel. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine asserts responsibility for the assassination shortly following the attack.
  • January 2002 - Ahmed Sa'adat, secretary general of the PFLP, is arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces. Israel accuses Sa'adat of masterminding Zeevi's murder and orders the PA to detain him, preventing former PA chairman Yasser Arafat from leaving Ramallah until Ze'evi's murderers are arrested and handed over to Israel. Following the Israeli demand, four PFLP members involved in Ze'evi's murder seek refuge in Arafat's Mukata compound in Ramallah.
  • March 2002 - IDF troops enter Ramallah and impose a blockade on the city and on the Mukata headquarters where Arafat and scores of fugitives are located, demanding that the fugitives be handed over to stand trial in Israel. Arafat refuses to meet Israel's demand.
  • April 2002 - In "kanagaroo court" trial in Ramallah- nominally a military court headed by Brig.Gen. Ribhi Arafat - the four cell members involved in Ze'evi's murder, Hamdi Koran, Basel Al Asmar, Majdi Rimawi and Ahed Gholam are sentenced to hard labor. Koran is sentenced to 18 years in jail, Al Asmar to 12 years, Rimawi to 8 years and Gholami to one year. Saadat never stands trial.
  • May 2002 - Sa'adat, along with Karine A weapons ship paymaster Fuad Shubaki and four cell members involved in Ze'evi's murder, is transferred from Ramallah to the Jericho prison where they would spend the next four years. The handover was part of a deal brokered by the United States, and opened the way for Israel to lift its month-long siege of Arafat's Ramallah headquarters. The agreement was predicated on the understanding that British and US agents would monitor the Jericho jail to ensure that the PA would not release the six fugitives.
  • October 2002 - The Jerusalem District Court convicts Mahmud Rimawi and Salah Alawi, two members of the cell involved in Ze'evi's murder, who were later arrested by security forces.
  • January 2006 - Following Hamas' win in the Palestinian Authority's parliamentary elections, victorious Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal promises that Hamas will release Sa'adat and the other PFLP members jailed in Jericho, saying that "it is impossible at these times that Palestinians be jailed in a Palestinian jail under American-British protection. This is over."
  • March 2006 - After the American and British monitors abandon the Jericho prison compound in which Sa'adat, al-Asmar, Rimawi, Koran and Gholam are being held, Israeli security forces storm the jail. Giving the prisoners the option to voluntarily exit the prison and surrender themselves to Israeli custody or die, Israeli security forces surround the building. Scores leave the compound but Sa'adat and the other PFLP fugitives refuse.