Tomb of Josef, Nablus.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Shin Bet announced on Tuesday that it had thwarted a planned attack on Jews praying at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.
Jews regularly visit Joseph’s Tomb, surrounded by Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, without coordinating with the IDF. The cell broken by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) planned to kill worshipers, using improvised explosives and guns.
Terrorists have successfully attacked Jews at the tomb in the past, including the 2011 attack in which PA policemen killed Ben-Joseph Livnat, 25, a nephew of then-culture and sport minister Limor Livnat.
Cpl. Madhat Yusuf, a 19-yearold border policeman, was killed there on October 1, 2000.
According to the Shin Bet, which arrested the cell in conjunction with the IDF, the terrorists were directed and provided arms by Muhammad Darwish, an Islamic Jihad operative in the Gaza Strip.
While the cell members had clearly carried out initial actions toward perpetrating an attack, the agency did not provide details on the circumstances of the arrests and on when they planned to strike.
Each terrorist had a specific role in the planned attack, according to the Shin Bet.
One of the members was responsible for supplying weapons, another gathered intelligence and two of the operatives were tasked with carrying out the attack.
Cell member Nassim Muhammad Ramadan Rashid Damiri, 30, from the Tulkarm refugee camp, had been incarcerated several times in Israel and is a known operative of Fatah’s Tanzim militia.
Another cell member, Muhammad Nufak Rafik Damiri, 23, also from Tulkarm, is a PA policeman.
The 2011 attack also involved members of the PA security forces.
Another of those arrested, Yasser Jaudat Abd Tsarawi, 25, from the Nablus area, is also a former prisoner and a known Hamas operative.
The fourth cell member, Adwan Fadel Hassan Nazzal, 24, from Kabatiya, near Jenin, is an Islamic Jihad operative, the Shin Bet said.
The Damiris from Tulkarm were to carry out the attack, while Tsarawi and Nazzal served in supporting roles.
“During the interrogation, Nassim Damiri admitted his intention to carry out a terrorist attack at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, and his cousin, Muhammad Damiri, admitted to conducting surveillance and collecting information on the movements of the worshipers there, in order to facilitate the attack,” the Shin Bet said.
Tsarawi confessed to teaching Nassim Damiri how to prepare an improvised gasoline bomb to use in the attack, and Adwan Nazzal was asked by Darwish to provide weapons to the cell, the Shin Bet added.
The case has been passed to the IDF’s Samaria Prosecutor’s Office to file indictments.
“In this investigation we have seen again very clearly that there is high motivation of operatives in Gaza to push and direct terrorism in the West Bank,” a Shin Bet source said.
Islamic Jihad, in addition to being active in Judea and Samaria, is the most frequent violator of cease-fires between Israel and Hamas, by firing rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Furthermore, security officials have accused the terrorist group of recently marking out a new front against the country by, at Iran’s orders, firing four missiles at the Golan and the Galilee from the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan Heights.
Iran has increasingly looked to Islamic Jihad to carry out operations against Israel as both Hamas and Hezbollah have recently preferred a generally calmer state of affairs.
Noam Amir of Ma’ariv contributed to this report.