Tragic twist in Netanya; Israeli family sues EU for Palestinian attack

May 20, 2002


1. "Israeli family sues EU for Palestinian attack" (AP, May 20, 2002)
2. "Park Hotel chef killed in Netanya suicide bombing" (AP)
3. "PFLP leader reportedly ordered Netanya attack from his Jericho jail cell" (Israel Insider, May 20, 2002)
4. "Israel demanded isolation of suspected bombing mastermind" (Ha'aretz, May 20, 2002)
5. "Hamas activist: most Gazans now object to suicide bombings" (Ha'aretz, May 20, 2002)
6. Shooting attack on the Karni-Netzarim route in Gaza Strip


[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach 6 articles below. Here is a summary for those who don't have time to read them in full.

(1) "Israeli family sues EU for Palestinian attack" (Associated Press). The British-born husband and five children of Techiya Bloomberg, who was murdered last August, are suing the European Union, alleging that EU grants to the Palestinian Authority indirectly benefited the gunmen who killed her, and that the EU was aware of the practice. Bloomberg, 35, was five months pregnant at the time of her murder. Her husband and 14-year-old daughter were paralyzed in the attack. EU spokesman David Kriss says the allegations are being treated "very seriously."

The law suit was filed this morning, May 20th, in the Tel-Aviv District Court against the European Union. The law suit, which is brought by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, alleges that the EU has recklessly provided the PA with massive amounts of financial aid, while knowing that the money was being diverted from its intended civilian purposes to Palestinian terrorist groups. The EU has donated approximately $10 million a month and more than $1.5 billion to the PA since 1994.

The plaintiffs contend that Yasser Arafat has channeled large sums of these EU funds to terrorist organizations within or linked to Fatah. The complaint alleges that the EU failed to undertake any steps to monitor or scrutinize how the PA was utilizing the money. Attorney Darshan-Leitner said, "The law suit will establish that the EU, even more than Iran, is the biggest source of funding for the Palestinian terrorist groups that target Israeli civilians."

(2) Arkady Wieselman, the chef at Netanya's Park Hotel, who narrowly survived the Passover bombing that killed 29 Israelis, became the latest victim to die of his injuries in yesterday's terror attack in the Netanya food market, which took place 6 blocks from the Park hotel.

(3) "PFLP leader reportedly ordered Netanya attack from his Jericho jail cell" (, based on a report in today's Ma'ariv). Israel says that a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader ordered the latest Netanya terror attack from the Jericho jail in which he is being held under British supervision. This was the twelfth bomb attack in Netanya since September 2000. The PFLP leader has been allowed access to telephones and visitors from his "comfortable, air-conditioned" jail, and has been giving interviews to Arab TV stations.

(4) "Israel demanded isolation of suspected bombing mastermind." Ha'aretz reports that right up until the day before the attack, Israel had been demanding that the United States and Britain put the PFLP leader under solitary confinement. "British diplomats supervising Saadat's detention had no comment," according to Ha'aretz.

(5) A report by Ha'aretz's Palestinian affairs correspondent Amira Hass, entitled, "Hamas activist: most Gazans now object to suicide bombings." If true this would be welcome news.

(6) It is possible that Hamas has temporarily stopped attacks, leaving other groups to carry them out. Just as the Netanya blast was claimed by the PFLP, the shooting attack yesterday in the Gaza strip was claimed by another secular terror group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. An Israeli government press release is attached. Senior DFLP commanders continue to enjoy freedom of movement by the Palestinian Authority.

-- Tom Gross



Israeli family sues EU for Palestinian attack
The Associated Press
May 20, 2002

An Israeli family filed a 20.7 million dollars lawsuit against the European Union on Monday, alleging that EU grants to the Palestinian Authority indirectly benefited gunmen who carried out a deadly shooting attack on the Bloomberg family in August.

The family's lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said the European Union was reckless in providing financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. She alleged that some of the EU money was being redirected by the Palestinian Authority to Palestinian militant groups, such as the one that carried out the attack on the British-born Bloomberg family, and that the EU was aware of the practice.

A European Commission official said the EU is investigating claims by Israel that the Palestinian Authority has used member states' money to carry out attacks against Israelis.

"We have yet to receive any evidence that the Palestinian Authority has misused our funds to fund terrorist activities. The Commission did say that they were treating these allegations made by the Israeli government very seriously and that it awaits any evidence to show that those funds have been misused," said David Kriss, a spokesman for the European Commission in Israel.

Techiya Blumberg, 35, was five months pregnant when she was killed in a Palestinian drive-by shooting in the West Bank on August 5. Her husband, Steven Blumberg, and 14-year-old daughter were also injured in the attack and remain paralyzed, Darshan-Leitner said in a statement.

Steven Blumberg and his five children are suing the EU over his wife's death. He and his injured daughter are also suing over their wounds.

Israeli security forces arrested two members of the Palestinian security forces last year and accused them of having participated in the attack on the Blumbergs.

"Without the EU's reckless provision of financing to the Palestinians, hundreds of Israeli terror victims would still be alive and thousands of others would never have had to suffer their tragic injuries," Darshan-Leitner said.



Park Hotel chef killed in Netanya suicide bombing
By Celean Jacobson
The Associated Press

Arkady Wieselman, a hotel chef in the coastal resort of Netanya, escaped the deadliest suicide bombing in Israel when he walked into the kitchen freezer just before an explosion rocked the hotel dining hall, killing 29 Israelis.

More than six weeks later, he was killed with two other Israelis when another suicide bomber walked into Netanya's outdoor market dressed as a soldier Sunday and detonated explosives he was carrying.

Wieselman's death compounded the feeling of tragedy at the hotel as its staff struggled to recover from the March 27 attack.

"I thought it was impossible that something like this would happen again to the people at the Park Hotel," said Rina Hamamy, whose husband, Ami, was the manager of the hotel.

Ami Hamamy died of his injuries two days after a suicide bomber wearing 40 pounds of explosives walked into the packed dining hall and blew himself up as guests were sitting down to the traditional Passover seder meal.

Wieselman, who had worked at the hotel for more than 10 years, had prepared the meal. He was in a freezer in an upper-level kitchen when the explosion occurred.

When Rina Hamamy arrived at the hotel five minutes later, Wieselman was tending to the injured. "He helped save the people. He was so sad about what happened but so relieved he was alive," she said.

Following Ami Hamamy's death, Wieselman helped care for his family, cooking meals during the mourning period and providing emotional support.

"Arkady was with me, and now everything begins again," Rina Hamamy said.

The attack in March triggered a massive military operation by Israel in the West Bank, which greatly slowed the number of bombings in the country. The attack Sunday was the 11th time in two years the town, close to the border between Israel and the West Bank, was targeted.

Hamamy said Wieselman, a Russian immigrant, was a gentle man and a devoted father and husband who feared for his family's safety amid the violence.

"He was upset about all these terror attacks in Netanya. He has two children and he was afraid that it could happen at their school, anywhere," she said.

On Sunday, his day off, Wieselman was wandering through the market's rows of fruits and vegetables, shopping for his family, when the bomber struck.

"It is going to be hard for his family. We pray and hope that this will end," Hamamy said.



PFLP leader reportedly ordered Netanya attack from his Jericho jail cell
By Ellis Shuman
Israel Insider
May 20, 2002

Security sources in Israel believe that Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmed Saadat ordered Sunday's suicide bombing attack in Netanya's market, in which three Israelis were killed and 59 were injured. Saadat is being held in a Jericho jail under British supervision on suspicion of planning the assassination of Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze'evi last October.

The PFLP claimed credit for the Netanya attack, saying, "Despite the closure and the emergency situation in which the forces of the criminal Sharon are acting, a member of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades managed to penetrate deep into the Zionist areas and enact this sacrifice operation." The PFLP said that it would not reveal the name of the suicide bomber to prevent Israel from retaliating against his operators.

Security forces dismissed conflicting claims of responsibility issued by Hamas, and assume that the terrorist left for his suicide mission from the Tulkarm area. A few hours after the Netanya attack, IDF forces operated in Palestinian villages near Tulkarm, but no arrests were made.

Israel has charged that Saadat orchestrated Ze'evi's assassination in retaliation for the IDF missile strike which killed his predecessor Abu Ali Mustafa last August. Saadat took refuge with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in the Mukata compound in Ramallah during Operation Defensive Shield. He was transferred to Jericho as part of the agreement that ended Arafat's confinement.

While the four PFLP members directly involved in Ze'evi's assassination are reportedly being held under strict guard, Saadat's supervised conditions are more liberal and allow him access to telephones and visitors. According to media reports, he shares a comfortable, air-conditioned room with Fuad Shubaki, suspected of masterminding the Karine A weapons shipment.

On Saturday, during an interview with Lebanese television station MBC, Saadat called on the Palestinian Authority to release him. PA officials have said that Saadat was never convicted of any crime, and he would be freed if a Palestinian court found no evidence to convict him. Arafat reportedly assured Saadat he would be released within ten days of the transfer to Jericho after a quick ruling by the Palestinian attorney general.

Israeli security sources believe that Saadat coordinated the Netanya attack through meetings with PFLP activists who met with him in the prison. Israeli officials passed on information regarding Saadat's continued involvement in terror activities to the Americans and the British, along with a demand to curtail his prison freedom, Maariv reported.

Government officials reportedly demanded that Saadat be placed in solitary confinement a full day before the Netanya attack, Ha'aretz reported. Officials said that Saadat was being held in an isolation cell, but they added that he might have been transferred there after issuing the orders to launch the suicide bombing mission.



Israel demanded isolation of suspected bombing mastermind
By Ha'aretz Staff
May 20, 2002

As early as the day before a suicide bomber killed three people and wounded scores of others Sunday in Netanya's open-air market, Israel demanded that the United States and Britain put Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary-General Ahmed Sa'adat now suspected of having ordering the bombing under solitary confinement, Israel Radio cited government officials as saying Monday.

The PFLP, among other groups, claimed responsibility for the Netanya attack. Israel is investigating the possibility that the bombing was personally ordered by Sa'adat.

Israel has charged that Sa'adat was behind the December assassination of then-tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi, in retaliation for the earlier killing of Sa'adat's predecessor as PFLP secretary-general. He is being held in a Jericho jail under the supervision of British jailers as part of an agreement, which ended Yasser Arafat's IDF-enforced confinement to the Palestinian leader's office in Ramallah.

The officials said Sa'adat's wardens are presently keeping Sa'adat in an isolation cell. But they added that he may have been transferred there only after having had enough time and opportunity to orchestrate the Netanya bombing.

Government spokesman, Danny Shek, said Israel has information that Sa'adat "might have been instrumental in commanding and masterminding the bombing."

Shek said the circumstances of Sa'adat's detention should be looked at. However, Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelossof said Monday there was no conclusive proof that Saadat ordered the Netanya attack.

British diplomats supervising Saadat's detention had no comment.

"In blatant violation of the agreement [ending the siege], Sa'adat and his men have complete freedom of action," a senior defense source said. He said Sa'adat and his men are allowed to use both cellular and regular telephones freely, with no supervision from either the British or Palestinian wardens, and are also allowed to receive visits from other PFLP activists. Both of these enable the jailed activists to transmit instructions for attacks easily, the source noted.



Hamas activist: most Gazans now object to suicide bombings
By Amira Hass, Ha'aretz Correspondent and agencies
May 20, 2002

A Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip has told Ha'aretz that in his opinion, most of the Palestinian public in Gaza now objects to suicide attacks, fearing that the next IDF retaliation will be directed at the Strip. In his opinion, whoever was behind the Netanya suicide attack Sunday will lose his strength in the Gaza Strip.

It is difficult to gauge whether the attacks have lost their popularity in the eyes of the general public, amid indications that younger Palestinians in general support suicide attacks, while older Palestinians condemn them.

Speaking a day after a suicide bomber killed three people and wounded more than 50 in Netanya's open-air market, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz Rantisi was quoted Monday as having said that suicide bombings were the "Palestinians' strategic weapon," and should continue.

But the Gaza Hamas activist, who has been expressing his objection to suicide bombing in internal discussions over the past few months, said he hoped that "those responsible are aware of these opinions," but admitted that it was still hard to publicly criticize suicide attacks.

Critics of suicide bombings are perceived as laying responsibility for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policies at the hands of militant Palestinian groups. The general public, by contrast, tends to regard the bombings as a response to Israeli policy.

The Palestinian leadership released an official statement Sunday condemning the Netanya attack, and calling upon the Palestinian public and political organizations to condemn suicide bombings that "endanger the Palestinian people, its just cause, its rights, and the future of its dream of a state."

It seems as if quite a few public figures recognize the fact that suicide bombings constitute a double-edged sword as a weapon in the Palestinians' struggle.

At a convention at the Bir Zeit university Saturday, under the title "Palestine at a crossroads" one lecture discussed suicide attacks and their effect on international attitudes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The speaker was Mamduh Nofel, a former senior official in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine's military wing, and currently a supporter of the Oslo process and an advisor to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Nofel quoted in his lecture other Palestinian writers who have publicly demanded Hamas stop suicide attacks, and elaborated on the damage these bombings cause the Palestinian struggle and the Palestinian Authority. He said the bombings made it easier for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to implement his plans for attacking the Palestinian Authority.

Those attending the convention "some of them lecturers at the university" joined the criticism on the attacks, and said that the Palestinian Authority's lack of a clear strategy created a void, which was taken over by organizations such as Hamas. Another claim was that Sharon was using every excuse available to widen attacks on Palestinian-controlled areas. Another the speakers said that the attacks should be condemned for moral reasons, not for utilitarian considerations.

However, another speaker reminded the audience that most of the Palestinian public supported suicide attacks, whereupon one of the younger members of the audience shouted "Praise God". This division was apparent in other public gatherings over the past few weeks: the younger Palestinians publicly support suicide attacks, while older people object to them.



Israeli press release.
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
May 19, 2005

A shooting attack was perpetrated today (Sunday), 19.5.2002, at an IDF and civilian convoy on the Karni-Netzarim route in the Gaza Strip. An IDF vehicle overturned during the attack, lightly injuring four soldiers.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine took credit for the attack; the senior DFLP militant responsible for the cell which perpetrated the attack is Talal Khalil Muhammad Abu Zarifa, 52, from Abasan. Abu Zarifa is responsible for a series of attacks and attempted attacks which have been perpetrated during the current wave of Palestinian violence, including the 25.8.2001 attack on the IDF's Marganit outpost in which three Israelis were killed.

Abu Zarifa's name has been passed to the Palestinian security services several times, including recently, on the basis of information obtained in investigations that he was overseeing an attack. The Palestinian security services did not act to prevent the attack; Abu Zarifa continues to enjoy full freedom of action.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.