Israeli police in front of Al Aqsa mosque 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Thursday submitted an indictment to the district court against five east Jerusalem Arabs for conspiring to carry out shooting and kidnapping attacks against Jews praying on the Temple Mount and security personnel posted in east Jerusalem.
According to the indictment, defendant Nor Hamdan decided in February to carry out shooting attacks on Jews who came to the Temple Mount to pray and against security forces in east Jerusalem.
To accomplish this, Hamdan allegedly recruited the other four defendants and others to form a terrorist cell.
The cell members reside in Ras el-Amud and ETur, in east Jerusalem, as well as the capital’s Old City, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said.
Hamdan made contact with several terrorist organizations, both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to receive training, guidance and weaponry, the indictment said.
The cell met several times in February and March and intended to help enemy terrorist organizations in their war with Israel, the indictment said.
Next, the indictment said that the cell planned to kidnap a Jew with a weapon, to kill him and also steal his weapon for future terrorist activities.
The Shin Bet said the defendants had set out toward Givat Ze’ev and picked up a Jewish hitchhiker who was looking for a ride to Adam, but when they found that he was unarmed, they allowed him to exit the vehicle.
The Shin Bet identified Hamdan, 24, from Ras el-Amud, as the head of the cell. Hamdan, who works at a store in the Old City, confessed during questioning to planning to shoot Israelis on the Temple Mount, saying he intended “to defend the Aksa Mosque.”
The Shin Bet added that Hamdan was influenced by videos of terrorist attacks that he saw on YouTube, particularly the shooting attack at the capital’s Merkaz Harav yeshiva in 2008, in which eight Israelis were murdered and 15 others were wounded.
The defendants “began firearms training with a handgun near Kalandiya in north Jerusalem,” and planned to travel to Nablus to meet with a member of Fatah’s Tanzim paramilitary organization to request firearms and funding, the Shin Bet said.
The defendants also planned to steal weapons from police officers in E-Tur, and went on to manufacture pipe bombs, the Shin Bet added.
In one incident, the defendants even scouted out what they believed was a police vehicle and started to position themselves to ambush the vehicle, but were caught off guard by police – who did not fully suspect what the defendants were planning – and abandoned the plan, the indictment said.
The Shin Bet said that the cell had come into possession of two handguns, a pipe bomb and ammunition.
The state has requested to remand all defendants to police custody until the end of the proceedings.
The next hearing on the remand issue is scheduled for April 24.