The Islamic Jihad cell behind the bombing of a Bat Yam bus last month was days
away from striking again in the Tel Aviv area, the Shin Bet (Israel Security
Agency) has found, after arresting and questioning its members.
suspects – four terrorists and 10 suspected abettors – were nabbed last week by
security forces in Bethlehem, and explosives were seized.
sources told to The Jerusalem Post that the cell appears to have been locally
formed, but that the next stage of the investigation will seek to determine
whether an Iranian influence played a part in orchestrating the
Of all the armed Palestinian factions, Islamic Jihad is the
closest to Tehran, and it has benefited from Iranian weapons, training and funds
for many years. The Shin Bet has focused the first part of its investigation on
the local terrorist infrastructure that gave rise to the bombing.
December 22, a bomb in a bag tore through an empty bus in Bat Yam, moments after
passengers and the driver evacuated it upon noticing the suspicious object. A
police sapper was lightly wounded.
Security forces said on Thursday that
following intensive intelligence efforts, backed by police and IDF, the Shin Bet
arrested four members of a terrorist cell led by brothers Shahada Muhammad
Ta’amri, 24, a former security prisoner, and Hamdi Muhammad Ta’amri, 21, a
Palestinian Authority policeman who was in a commanders’ training
Two additional members have been named as Sami Harimi, 20, who
illegally worked at a Jaffa restaurant, and Yousef Salame, 22. Ten Palestinians
are under arrest for being linked to cell’s activities.
decided to carry out a mass-casualty attack in Israel in recent months, the Shin
Bet found in its investigation. The bomb placed on the bus, made up of 2 kg. of
improvised explosives, nails, screws and an activation mechanism attached to a
cellphone, was created by the Ta’amri brothers, the Shin Bet said.
Harimi then received the explosive in a black bag, which he took on the morning
of December 12 to the South Hebron Hills with other Palestinians seeking to
enter Israel illegally. They though a gap in the West Bank security barrier in
the Eshkolot area north of Beersheba.
Once in Israel, Harimi entered a
vehicle driven by an Israeli Beduin who regularly transports illegal
Palestinians, and drove to Jaffa. There he prayed in a mosque and boarded the
No. 240 bus, operated by the Dan transport company.
He left the bag in
the middle of the bus and got off at the next station. After a few minutes, he
activated the bomb by calling the phone attached to the explosive.
was arrested four days after the attack, on December 26, in Bethlehem.
informed the Shin Bet of plans to carry out another major bombing in the Tel
Aviv-Jaffa area in the coming days, but the plot was disrupted by the arrest of
the terrorist cell.
Hamdi Ta’amri led investigators to a large bomb
weighing 20 kg. hidden near his Bethlehem home.
“The investigation is
still ongoing,” the Shin Bet said. “More arrests are expected.”