Vigilant hotel staff thwarts terrorist bombing in Eilat

Eilat. Credit: Israel Tourism via Wikimedia Commons.

( A bombing at a hotel in the resort city of Eilat was recently averted thanks to the hotel staff’s vigilance, Israel’s Southern District Attorney’s Office revealed Thursday.

The suspects, identified as Jerusalem residents Khaleel Nimri and Ashraf Salaymeh, both Arab citizens of Israel, were indicted before the Beersheba District Court on charges of conspiracy to aid the enemy during a time of war. Both were remanded pending the conclusion of the legal proceedings.

The investigation, headed by a joint Shin Bet security agency and Southern District Police task force, found the two had met while working and living in Eilat and that, inspired by the current wave of terrorism, Nimri had decided to avenge the death of a childhood friend killed in October while trying to carry out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.

The indictment alleged that Nimri had originally suggested the two carry out a stabbing attack, targeting a religious Jew. Salaymeh refused, saying the plan increased the chances they would both get caught, rendering their act “insignificant.”

Salaymeh then suggested they plant an explosive device at one of the city's hotels, to which Nimri agreed. The prosecution said the two chose the Be Center Hotel, located at the heart of Eilat, and continued to surveil it for several days. One of them also watched online videos on constructing bombs.

According to the timeline detailed by the prosecution, on Nov. 30, Salaymeh arrived at the hotel with the purpose of learning its interior layout. He approached the front desk, told the staff he was interested in renting a room for a prolonged stay, and asked to see the types of rooms available.

The staff became suspicious after he began asking questions about the layout of the dining room, the number of exits the hotel has, and its occupancy rate. He was also particularly interested to learn whether religious Jews were staying at the hotel.

At one point, one of the hotel receptionists alerted the manager and hotel security to Salaymeh’s presence. They reported the incident to the authorities, which led to Nimri and Salaymeh’s arrest.

Hotel owner and manager Shlomi Koren told Israel Hayom, “The receptionist felt the questions were suspicious and immediately informed hotel security. They turned over the footage from our security cameras to the police. I'm very proud of my employees. Their vigilance saved many lives.”

Posted on January 1, 2016 .