Israeli security services uncover Islamic Jihad cell planning mass terror attack
Said Khatib (AFP)
Israel's Shin Bet security service arrest members of a terrorist cell in the early stages of preparing a mass terror attack at a wedding hall in southern Israel.
According to a statement put out by the security agency, Mahmoud Yousef Hussein Abu Taha, a resident of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, was arrested late September at the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, when he requested to enter Israel for commercial purposes.
Over the course of the investigation, the Shin Bet revealed that Abu Taha was the head of a terrorist cell which receievd its orders from the Islamic Jihad in the Strip.
The group planned to carry out a mass attack in the southern city of Beer Sheva with the aim to kill as many people as possible, as well as abduct an Israeli soldier to be used as a bargaining chip.
Abu Taha was reportedly recruited by Wael Sufian Abu Taha, a senior Islamic Jihad operative living in the Gaza Strip. Mahmoud Abu Taha was tasked with establishing military infrastructure and prepare to conduct the aforementioned attacks.
Abu Taha also recruited the other men for his cell, two of whom were elderly Gaza residents who lived in Israeli illegaly. One of the men worked at the wedding hall at which the attack was planned, the Shin Bet said.
The statement named the members of the cell as 55-year-old Shafiq Ahmad Hamad Abu Taha, who resided in Israeli illegaly, 39-year-old Ahmed Tisir Abdulrahman abu-Taha from Gaza, who also resided in Israel illegally, and 40-year-old Hani Masood Nasir Abu Amra, originally from Deir al-Balah in Gaza, who lived in Israeli with temporary resident status through marriage by way of the "family reunification" law.
The cell's plan included to attack the wedding hall to cause a mass-casualty event, as well as the kidnapping and murder of an Israeli soldier.
According to the Shin Bet statement, the cell received thousands of dollars from Wael Abu Taha, to rent an apartment in Israel to which it could bring the kidnapped soldier. The men would then murder and bury the soldier and take his belongings to Gaza to be used as bargaining chips.
The statement also stresses that this case "illustrates once again the efforts of the terrorists in Gaza, to carry out murderous attacks on Israeli territory, the typical terrorist methods, parallel actions in the Gaza Strip."
In addition, the terror plot shows the danger posed by Palestinians illegally residing in Israel, the Shin Bet warned.
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