Oct 172012

The following summary of the operation of October 17, 2001 was prepared by the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades. We republish it here on the 11th anniversary of that operation in tribute to the valiant fighters and heroes of our people:

Following the assassination of General Secretary Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa on August 29, 2001, the fighters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine sought an effective and daring response. The response decided upon was difficult and full of danger, but the fighters had a strong will in their hearts and a dedication and willingness to sacrifice for Abu Ali Mustafa and the Palestinian revolution.

On Monday afternoon, October 15, Comrades Hamdi Qur’an and Basel Al-Asmar came to the Hyatt Regency hotel in East Jerusalem, carrying with them a small bag containing two guns with silencers.

They went to the reception desk, where Basel al-Asmar gave the desk clerk an Israeli blue identity card in the name of Samer Shehada, one of the group assisting the operation. They paid their room bill and obtained the keys for their hotel room, located on the third floor. Once they arrived, they toured the hotel completely in order to learn its security systems, emergency doors, elevators, and the patterns of customer traffic in the sitting room and other public areas. They went to the eighth floor, where they knew the notorious racist extremist minister Rehavam Ze’evi was staying, Room 816, in order to fully understand the surrounding area and prepare for the operation.

On Tuesday, October 16, they left the hotel in the morning and returned in the afternoon, moving to the fifth floor, three floors away from Ze’evi’s room.

Outside the hotel, the group assisting the operation continued their work on logistics: they rented two cars from Vet Vonto auto rental, including one Kia automobile, hired in the name of Mustafa al-Rimawi from Beit Rima, a small and simple car for rescue and guard, and one Fiat truck. Comrade Mohammad Rimawi hid a Scorpion machine gun inside the Kia. Later in the afternoon, they traveled in the car, practicing their escape route, and scouting other potential withdrawal routes to be used if necessary. The rest of the team working on the operation prepared the apartment at which the fighters would hide following the operation, at the house of Saleh Elwy in Al-Ezareia.

Other comrades hid guns, bombs, explosives and other military weapons, in order to use them in case of an emergency, the failure of the operation or any other unforeseen difficulties. They prepared for open confrontation in east Jerusalem if necessary.

On Wednesday morning, October 17, comrades Hamdi and Basel awakened early and re-checked their weapons before heading to the hotel dining room, where they watched Ze’evi and his family eating breakfast. Hamdi and Basel went to the eighth floor to wait for Ze’evi’s return to his hotel room. After 7 a.m., Ze’evi left the dining room and headed to his hotel room to retrieve his bag. Hamdi called out to him with his nickname, “Ghandi!”

This was the last word he heard, from the mouth of this great fighter of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Ze’eviturned his back on Hamdi, who shot three bullets from his gun, bullets full of the anger and pain of the entire Palestinian people.

This was the first time a Zionist minister had been killed by the forces of the Palestinian revolution, at the hand of the PFLP. After being certain of Ze’evi’s death, Hamdi and Basel took the elevator to the ground floor and quickly left the hotel in the Fiat. Coincidentally, on the elevator, they met Ozi Dayan, who later held a high position of responsibility in the ranks of Israeli security, but they deceived him successfuly and avoided any suspicion. Mohammed al-Rimawi and Saleh Karan traveled in the other car, the Kia, but unfortunately the car broke down in the hotel parking lot. They left the car there, still containing the gun, and took a taxi near the apartment they had prepared at a hideout. Basel and Hamdi also returned securely to their safe houses to deliver their statements of the victory of the operation and the avenging of the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa.

Comrades Mohammed and Saleh were arrested after pursuit by the Zionist intelligence, and the other comrades involved in the operation hid and protected themselves from the Zionist military, which was, at the time, attacking all of the cities, towns, and villages in the West Bank. The comrades involved in the operation continued to hide successfully from the Zionist intelligence but were seized by the Palestinian Authority “Security forces” under Tawfiq Tirawi in Nablus and Ramallah in February 2002 – Ahed Ghoulmeh, member of the Central Committee who the Zionists described as the leader of the PFLP fighters in the West Bank; Majdi Rimawi, the planner of the operation, and Hamdi Qur’an and Basel al-Asmar, who carried out the operation.

These four men were held by the PA, alongside the General Secretary of the PFLP, Ahmad Sa’adat, in the Muqata’, where they were convicted by a hastily called military court under Israeli threat, and contrary to all Palestinian law. Comrade Hamdi was sentenced to 18 years, Basil to 12 years, Majdi to 8 years, and Ahed to 1 year in PA prison. Under an agreement with Israel, the United States and Britain, the comrades were sent to Jericho prison, alongside Comrade Leader Sa’adat (who had never been tried or convicted), where they were held by the PA under US and British guard until the Zionist military siege of Jericho prison on March 14, 2006.

The comrades were then tried once more in the illegitimate military courts of the occupier; Hamdi was sentenced to two life sentences plus 100 years; Basel to one life sentence plus 20 years; Majdi to one life sentence plus 80 years; and Ahed to a life sentence plus five years. They stand alongside their fellow Palestinian prisoners as brave and proud fighters, heroes of the PFLP and the entire Palestinian people, whose acts of heroism and courage inspire us all to continue to struggle and fight on the path of liberation.

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