OpinionJewish & Israeli Holidays

20 years on, PA still glorifies the perpetrators of the Passover Seder Massacre

People who praise and reward terrorist murderers, simply because they murdered Jews, are not and will never be partners for peace.

The dining hall of the Park Hotel in Netanya, following a deadly suicide bombing on Passover eve in March 2002. Credit: IDF spokesperson's unit via Wikimedia Commons.
The dining hall of the Park Hotel in Netanya, following a deadly suicide bombing on Passover eve in March 2002. Credit: IDF spokesperson's unit via Wikimedia Commons.
Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch
Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the director of the Initiative for Palestinian Authority Accountability and Reform in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; a senior legal analyst for Human Rights Voices; and a member of the Israel Defense and Security Forum.

March 27, 2022, was the twentieth anniversary of the Passover Seder Massacre. As families sat down to Passover dinner at the Park Hotel in Netanya in northern Israel in 2002, a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated his explosive device in the dining hall, murdering 30 and wounding another 160.

Every month, the Palestinian Authority spends tens of thousands of dollars to reward the bomber’s family and pay salaries to the terrorists arrested by Israel for their part in the massacre.

Among the terrorists arrested for the attack are: Abbas al-Sayid, the main planner of the attack, who received 35 life sentences; Fathi Hatib, convicted for transporting the bomber (29 life sentences); Muhannad Shreim, who financed the attack (29 life sentences); and Muamar al-Sheikh, the deputy of senior Hamas figure Abbas al-Sayid (29 life sentences).

Each one of these terrorists, all of whom were arrested in May 2022, has by now been paid over one million shekels ($310,000) by the P.A. as a reward for their participation in the murder of 30 Israelis.

The P.A. has also paid hundreds of thousands of shekels to the families of Kais Adwan, one of the main planners of the attack, who was killed on April 5, 2002, and to the family of the suicide bomber, Abd al-Basset Odeh.

The P.A. has repeatedly honored al-Sayid, calling him, among other things, a “heroic fighter” and “the lion of the prison cells” (P.A. TV, Oct. 25, 2011).

In 2017, al-Sayid was among many other terrorist murderers glorified by Fatah—the Palestinian faction headed by P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas—in a post on the Fatah Facebook page:

“All blessings to our heroic prisoners carrying out the [hunger] strike of dignity: Karim Younes, Marwan Barghouti, Nael Barghouti, Ahmad Sa’adat, Abbas al-Sayid, Hassan Salameh, Zaid Bassisi, Bassem al-Khandaqji, Wajdi Joudeh, Maher Younes, Fuad al-Shubaki, Wael al-Jaghoub” (Official Fatah Facebook page, May 3, 2017).

At the graduation ceremony held in honor of Shreim on his completing a degree while in prison, Al-Quds Open University President Younes Amr referred to Shreim as a “prisoner knight” (official P.A. daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 29, 2018).

The P.A. has also repeatedly glorified the bomber.

While praising the terrorists of the Jenin refugee camp, who “wrote a heroic epic in blood” during the 2000-2005 P.A. terror campaign, the official P.A. daily singled out Odeh for praise.

In January 2003, less than a year after the deadly attack, the P.A. Education Ministry even held a football tournament named in Odeh’s honor:

“In the football field of Tulkarem’s Abd Al-Majid Tayeh School, under the auspices of Jamal Tarif, director of the Education Department [of the P.A. Education Ministry]… the Tulkarem Martyrs’ (Shahids’) Football Tournament, the Championship of the Martyr Abd al-Basset Odeh, began with the participation of seven top teams, named after martyrs who gave their lives to redeem the homeland… Issam, the brother of the martyr [Odeh], will distribute the trophies” (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 21, 2003).

It’s important to stress that P.A. leader Abbas has admitted that the P.A. was responsible for this and all terror between 2000-2005. When explaining the P.A. demand that Israel release all the Palestinian terrorists, he left no room for misconceptions:

“P.A. chairman Mahmoud Abbas: ‘I demand [the release of] prisoners because they are human beings, who did what we—we—ordered them to do. We—the [Palestinian] Authority. They should not be punished while we sit at one table negotiating…

“This is war. One [i.e., Israel] ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance [a euphemism for terrorism]. This person killed and the other person killed. So why say this person’s hands are stained with blood, and [he] must be kept in prison? He is a fighter just like any other fighter” (official P.A. TV, Feb. 14, 2005).

Other P.A. leaders have repeated this claim.

The P.A.’s adulation, glorification and rewarding of terrorists, including mass murderers, is something every decent human being should ferociously reject. People who praise and reward terrorist murderers, simply because they murdered Jews, are not and will never be partners for peace.

IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position, he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.

This article was first published by Palestinian Media Watch.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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