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Alleged Passover massacre plotter arrested

  • Story Highlights
  • Israel says it has arrested the man behind a bombing that killed 30 people
  • Omar Jabar is accused of recruiting and training Hamas militants
  • 2002 Passover suicide bomb exploded in Netanya hotel packed with diners
  • Jabar was arrested a day before the six-year anniversary of the attack
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli forces have arrested a wanted Hamas leader accused of planning one of the worst suicide attacks on Israel, the Israeli military announced Wednesday.

An Israeli solider guards the hotel on the first anniversary of the suicide bombing.

Omar Jabar was wanted by Israel for six years "for his direct responsibility in carrying out" the 2002 Passover suicide bombing in Netanya that killed 30 Israelis and left 143 wounded, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israeli military and security forces nabbed Jabar -- identified as the head of Hamas in the Tulkarem area -- in a West Bank village near Tulkarem overnight Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

He was arrested a day before the six-year anniversary of the attack, one of the deadliest in Israeli history.

On March 27, 2002, a suicide bomber walked into the seaside Park Hotel and made his way toward a dining room, where he detonated his explosives as 227 people were eating their Seder meal.

According to IDF, Jabar recruited the person who dispatched the suicide bomber, introducing him to the head of the Hamas in Tulkarem at the time, Abed Sayad.

The IDF says Sayad told Israeli investigators that he and Jabar met and began working together in 1994 during a stint in prison.

After the Passover attack, the Israeli military said Jabar continued to recruit militants to Hamas and over the past year was involved in their combat training.

He hid from Israeli forces in villages near Tulkarem, using his family members to send coded messages to Hamas operatives "in order to lead the Hamas terror organization in Tulkarem, finance his and other militants' terrorist activity and purchase weapons," the IDF said.

Israel and the U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Its military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military.

It also operates an extensive social services network in the Palestinian territories and won parliamentary elections in 2006. Last year, it seized control of Gaza from the rival Fatah group, which backs Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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