B’Chasdei Hashem, a large-scale terror attack was thwarted on Thursday afternoon after Yasam police officers stopped a suspect in Yafo armed with a submachine gun and two pipe bombs.
The officers stopped the suspect after he raised their suspicions and searched him. After he was transferred for questioning, he admitted to interrogators that he was on the way to carry out out a large-scale attack in a crowded area in Tel Aviv.
One of the Yasam officers who stopped the suspect, Sharif Hasson, explained what happened. “We were patrolling in Yafo. We identified a suspicious person, stopped him, and while we were checking him, he admitted that he was in Israel illegally and didn’t have any ID. He had a really heavy bag and there was something metal poking out. While checking it we saw it was a gun. We told him to get down on the ground, that he was under arrest.”
“He was trying to carry out a massacre,” Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told reporters.
The suspect, a 19-year-old resident of Shechem who had entered Israel illegally, had recently been released from a prison sentence for bringing a knife to Har HaBayis in April. A second suspect who was nearby was also arrested on suspicion of aiding the terrorist.
On Thursday evening, Israeli security forces set up checkpoints near Ariel in the Shomron after receiving intelligence from the Shin Bet about an additional suspect who aided the terrorist. The terrorist’s brother was later arrested at the Tupuach junction.
Channel 12 News reported further details of the incident on Friday morning. The suspect, Mohammad Minawi, left his home in Shechem with the machine gun and pipe bombs and crossed the security fence in the Tulkarem area. He then traveled via taxi to Yafo, where his suspicious behavior led the Yasam officers to stop him. After his arrest, he was taken for questioning by the Shin Bet where he admitted: “I planned to carry out a mass attack in a crowded place in Tel Aviv.”
The report added that the State requested to sentence him to ten months of prison after his indictment for a terror offense on Har HaBayis but the court sentenced him to only a four-month prison sentence and he was released after serving only two months.
Kan News reported that after Minawi was arrested on Har HaBayis, he said in his interrogation (only six months ago): “If I had obtained a gun or rifle, I would have committed an attack. I’m not prepared to carry out an attack with a knife, only with something bigger. I hate Jews and I’m ready to kill anyone who’s not Muslim.”
On Thursday evening, Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with the two Yamam officers, Hasson and Mohabua Mengistu, who prevented a terrible tragedy, to thank them for their life-saving actions.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Yair Lapid held a situational assessment at the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv in the wake of the recent surge in terror attacks.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)