Israeli soldiers on Wednesday arrested the Hamas mastermind of the bloodiest suicide bombing of the Palestinian uprising, an attack that killed 30 people and wounded 143 others during a Passover dinner celebration in 2002, the army said.

Omar Jabar planned the attack and dispatched the suicide bomber to the hotel in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, the military said. He was arrested early Wednesday in the West Bank, the army said.

The attack spurred the military to launch a broad offensive in which Israel retook control of West Bank cities from the Palestinians.

The bombing came at a time of intense Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed, but was especially shocking because of the high death toll and because it targeted a religious celebration. Most of the victims were elderly.

Military officials said Jabar, who was high on Israel's most-wanted list, was found by chance. They said they had gone to the West Bank town of Qalqiliya to arrest another wanted man and Jabar happened to be there.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.