Murdered Minister Remembered at Mt. Herzl
The eighth anniversary of the murder of Minister of Tourism Rehavam “Gandhi” Ze'evi will be marked Sunday at an official government ceremony on Mount Herzl at 3:00 pm.
Ze'evi was shot by four Palestinian Authority terrorists on October 17, 2001 while staying in the Hyatt Hotel in Jerusalem, moments before he was scheduled to be interviewed by Arutz Sheva’s morning news program. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) took credit for the killing, which it claimed was carried out in revenge for Israel’s assassination of the group's secretary-general Abu Ali Mustafa earlier that year.
An Israeli general, politician, and historian who founded the pro-Israel Moledet party, Ze’evi maintained strong views about Israel’s security needs and the Israeli-Arab conflict. He publicly advocated a voluntary population transfer of PA Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza to Arab nations through a plan that included financial incentives.
According to Ze’evi, such a move constituted the only way to promote peace with the Arab nations and spare further bloodshed.
Following the murder, Ze'evi's killers – Hamdi Quran, Basel al-Asmar, Majdi Rahima Rimawi, and Ahad Olma – fled to the Palestinian Authority for protection. The U.S. brokered a plan to jail the four suspects, plus PFLP head Ahmad Sa'adat, in Jericho under the guard of American and British forces in April 2002.
The American and British guards left the jail on March 14, 2006, however, charging that the PA was not sticking to the agreements it had made. Shortly after, Israel launched "Operation Bringing Home the Goods", stormed the Jericho prison, and seized the five killers.
In December 2007, Hamdi Quran confessed in an Israeli court to assassinating Ze'evi together with Basel al-Asmar after being instructed by PFLP member Majdi Rahima Rimawi. He was sentenced to 125 years in prison.
In August 2007, Basel al-Asmar was convicted of murder by an Israeli court and sentenced to 45 years in prison.
In July 2008, Majdi Rahima Rimawi was convicted of murder by an Israeli court for his part in planning the assassination, including providing the gunmen with a photo of Ze'evi and the details and layout of the Hyatt. He was sentenced to life in prison and an additional 80 years.
In December 2008, Ahad Olma was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in instigating and planning the assassination.
On December 25, 2008, an Israeli military court sentenced Ahmad Sa'adat to 30 years in prison for heading an "illegal terrorist organization" and for his responsibility for all actions carried out by his organization, including the murder of Ze'evi.
In July 2005, the Knesset passed a law to commemorate Ze'evi's memory and educate future generations about his legacy. Highway 90 is named Gandhi's Road; a statue named after Ze’evi is erected in Eilat's promenade; and the Merhav Am and Ma'ale Rehav'am settlements are both named for Ze’evi as well.