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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 01:58 GMT
Israel jails Palestinian militants
Two ultra-orthodox Jews look on as a victim is taken away from the scene of a bombing at a student cafeteria in Jerusalem
The men were accused of planning attack on a student cafe

A court in Israel has jailed four Palestinians found guilty of planning suicide attacks that left 35 people dead and many more injured.

The lightest sentence handed down was 50 years in prison.

Prosecutors said the sentences would ensure that those convicted would remain behind bars to their last days.

The case had caused special concern in Israel because the men, who had been recruited by the extremist Islamic group Hamas, were able to use Israeli identification cards to prepare and carry out the attacks.

Multiple sentences

For many Israelis, this was the nightmare of the enemy within.

Two of the men are escorted by an Israeli policeman
Prosecutors said those convicted would be behind bars to their last days

Since Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem and surrounding villages after the 1967 war, Palestinian residents have been given ID cards allowing them to move with relative freedom within Israel itself.

It was this freedom, according to the prosecution, which the Hamas cell from the village of Silwan was able to exploit.

The cell members scouted targets in advance and then directed Palestinian suicide bombers to them to cause maximum harm.

The results were some of the most deadly attacks on civilians during the current Palestinian uprising: 15 dead in a pool hall near Tel Aviv, 11 in a Jerusalem cafe and nine people killed in student cafeteria.

In addition, more than 200 people were injured, many of them seriously.

The leader of the cell, Wahel Kassem, was sentenced to 50 years in prison plus 35 life terms - one for each of the victims.

His three accomplices also received multiple life sentences - enough, said the prosecution, to ensure that all four men will remain in prison to their very last days.


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05 Dec 02 | Middle East
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