A Hamas-affiliated terrorist cell of east Jerusalem residents who were planning terror attacks against a number of Israeli targets was thwarted last month, the Shin Bet revealed on Tuesday.
The Israeli-Arab suspects planned to carry out a number of shooting attacks on Israeli targets via two terror squads as well as several assassinations, including Otzmat Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir. The cell members also planned to build improvised explosive devices for a string of bombing attacks and plotted to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
One squad purchased a drone which they planned on equipping with explosives and blowing up over Jewish homes in the mixed Jewish-Arab Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tur or using it to perpetrate an attack on the Jerusalem Light Rail.
The squads were led by Rashid Reshak, a senior Hamas operative living in the Old City of Jerusalem, who was also planning, together with Mansour Tzafdi, a Hamas operative from Abu Tor, to perpetrate a shooting or suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The members of the cell had already planned hiding places in Hebron or Jenin to flee to after the perpetration of the attacks.
The Shin Bet investigation also revealed that Reshak had established a network of activists in Jerusalem with the aim of carrying out riots in the eastern part of the city and on Har HaBayis during Ramadan in order to destabilize the area. Reshak oversaw the transfer of fireworks and Hamas flags and ribbons to eastern Jerusalem and Har HaBayis for this purpose.
Five suspects were arrested in early April by the Shin Bet and Jerusalem District Police and various items were seized, including the drone, a camera intended to photograph kidnapped hostages, money, and Hamas organizational equipment.
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed indictments on Tuesday against the suspects for conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism against Jews and security forces, including MK Itamar Ben Gvir. The charges against the suspects include conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and kidnapping for the purpose of extortion, training or instruction for terrorist purposes, conspiracy to commit terrorist acts via explosive materials, preparation to commit an act of terrorism by explosive materials, providing means to commit a crime or misdemeanor, membership in a terror organization, weapons offenses, attempted assault on a police officer in aggravated circumstances, and rioting.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)