Passover massacre

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Park Hotel Passover attack
Part of the Second Intifada terror campaign
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The attack site
Location Netanya
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Date 27 March 2002
19:30 pm (GMT+2)
Attack type
suicide bomber
Deaths 30 civilians (+ 1 suicide bomber)
Non-fatal injuries
140 civilians
Perpetrators Hamas claimed responsibility

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.[citation needed]

The attack

File:Park Hotel in Netenya, Israel.JPG
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. During this holiday many hotel guests were elderly Jews who didn't have family and relatives in Israel.

In the evening of 27 March 2002, a Palestinian suicide 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 pm (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.[3][4][5] 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.[6]

The plot for the Passover massacre included the use of cyanide;[7] 4 kg of cyanide had been bought and prepared for a chemical attack.[8]

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.[8] In 2002, 4 kg of chlorine had been bought and packed for the attack. For an unknown reason it was not used and passed to Abbas al-Sayyid instead.[8][9]


Abramovitch family
  • Shula Abramovitch, 63, of Holon[10]
  • David Anichovitch, 70, of Netanya[11]
Britvich family
  • Alter Britvich, 88, of Netanya[12]
  • Frieda Britvich, 86, of Netanya[13]
Fried family
  • Andre Fried, 47, of Netanya[14]
  • Idit Fried, 47, of Netanya[15]
Karim family
  • Dvora Karim, 73, of Netanya[16]
  • Michael Karim, 78, of Netanya[17]
Korman family
  • Eliezer Korman, 74, of Ramat HaSharon[18]
  • Yehudit Korman, 70, of Ramat HaSharon[19]
Vider family
  • St.-Sgt. Sivan Vider, 20, of Bekaot[20]
  • Ze'ev Vider, 50, of Bekaot[21]
Weiss family
  • Ernest Weiss, 80, of Petah Tikva[22]
  • Eva Weiss, 75, of Petah Tikva[23]
Yakobovitch family
  • Anna Yakobovitch, 78, of Holon[24]
  • George Yakobovitch, 76, of Holon[25]
Additional victims
  • Sgt.-Maj. Avraham Beckerman, 25, of Ashdod[26]
  • Shimon Ben-Aroya, 42, of Netanya[27]
  • Miriam Gutenzgan, 82, Ramat Gan[28]
  • Amiram Hamami, 44, of Netanya[29]
  • Perla Hermele, 79, of Stockholm, Sweden[30]
  • Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, 77, of Netanya[31]
  • Lola Levkovitch, 70, of Jerusalem[32]
  • Sarah Levy-Hoffman, 89, of Tel Aviv[33]
  • Furuk Na'imi, 62, of Netanya[34]
  • Eliahu Nakash, 85, of Tel Aviv[35]
  • Chanah Rogan, 90, of Netanya[36]
  • Irit Rashel, 45, of Moshav Herev La'et[37]
  • Clara Rosenberger, 77, of Jerusalem[38]
  • Yulia Talmi, 87, of Tel Aviv[39]

The perpetrators

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomber was identified as Abdel-Basset Odeh, a 25-year-old from the nearby West Bank city of Tulkarm. Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi said that "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.[40]

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."[41]

 Palestinian territories:

  •  United States: President of the United States George W. Bush condemned the attack and called on Yasser Arafat to do everything in his power to stop what he called "terrorist killing".[45]


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."[46]

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.[47][48][49]

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.

Qeis Adwan, head of the suicide bombing network responsible for the massacre,[50] was killed by IDF forces on 5 April 2002[51] 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.[52]

Muhannad Taher, believed to be the maker of the explosive device, was killed in clashes with Shayetet 13 fighters in June 2003.[citation needed]


In May 2002, Israeli forces arrested the mastermind behind the attack, 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. On 26 March 2008 Hamas commander Omar Jabar, who was suspected of organizing the Passover massacre bombing, was arrested in Tulkarem.[53]

In September 2009, Muhammad Harwish, a senior Hamas militant and one of the planners of the bombing, was arrested by the Border Police's elite Yamam counter-terror squad in his home village along with an aide, Adnan Samara.[54]

Palestinian glorification of the bomber

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").[55][56]

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. Patience, Martin. "Israelis wary of Arab peace plan",, 31 March 2007; accessed 28 May 2008.
  4. Ruth Morris and Laura King. "Bombing in Israeli City Injures 56", Los Angeles Times, 31 March 2003.
  5. Linda Grant. "Defenders of the faith", The Guardian, 6 July 2002.
  6. Massacre during Passover Seder in the Park Hotel, Netanya,; accessed 14 December 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2
  9. " - Hamas’s Tactics: Lessons from Recent Attacks". Retrieved 14 December 2014. C1 control character in |title= at position 24 (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Shula Abramovitch
  11. David Anichovitch
  12. Alter Britvich
  13. Frieda Britvich
  14. Andre Fried
  15. Idit Fried
  16. Dvora Karim
  17. Michael Karim
  18. Eliezer Korman
  19. Yehudit Korman
  20. St-Sgt Sivan Vider
  21. Ze-ev Vider
  22. Ernest Weiss
  23. Eva Weiss
  24. Anna Yakobovitch
  25. George Yakobovitch
  26. Sgt-Maj Avraham Beckerman
  27. Shimon Ben-Aroya
  28. Miriam Gutenzgan
  29. Amiram Hamami
  30. Perla Hermele
  31. Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui
  32. Lola Levkovitch
  33. Sarah Levy-Hoffman
  34. Furuk Na-imi
  35. Eliahu Nakash
  36. Chanah Rogan
  37. Irit Rashel
  38. Clara Rosenberger
  39. Yulia Talmi
  40. "Hamas rejects Arab peace overture to Israel, vows to continue attacks", Associated Press, 29 March 2002
  41. "Breaking, World, US & Local News -". NY Daily News. Retrieved 14 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. "Arab states agree peace plan". 28 March 2002. Retrieved 14 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. "MIDEAST TURMOIL: MIDEAST; BOMB KILLS AT LEAST 19 IN ISRAEL AS ARABS MEET OVER PEACE PLAN". 28 March 2002. Retrieved 14 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. "LE SECRETAIRE GENERAL DECLARE QUE L'ATTENTAT D'HIER AU MOYEN-ORIENT NUIT CONSIDERABLEMENT A LA CAUSE PALESTINIENNE". Retrieved 14 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. "BBC News - MIDDLE EAST - Bush condemns 'callous' killing". Retrieved 14 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. Response of FM Peres to the decisions of the Arab Summit in Beirut, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; accessed 14 December 2015.
  47. Ophir Falk and Henry Morgenstein: Suicide terror: understanding and confronting the threat
  48. List of Second Intifada casualties B'Tselem (see the 01.03.2002-31.03.2002 period)
  49. Fence or Offense? Testing the Effectiveness of "The Fence" in Judea and Samaria, Bar-Ilan University website; accessed 14 December 2015.
  50. "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.
  51. "ynet רשימת המוות של המבוקש קייס עדואן - חדשות". ynet. Retrieved 14 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  52. "The Most Wanted Palestinian". The New York Times. 30 June 2002. Retrieved 21 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  53. "Israel Passover bomb suspect held". BBC News. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  54. Police capture Park Hotel massacre terrorist,; accessed 14 December 2015.
  55. Itamar Marcus. "Football tournament honors suicide terrorists". Palestinian media watch. Retrieved 24 May 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  56. 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

External links