Hamas terror cell.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Jerusalem Police have captured a
Hamas terrorist cell that was operating in east Jerusalem and planning attacks
against Israeli targets, it was announced on Thursday.
One of the cell
members was behind a bomb that severed the hand of a Jerusalem municipal worker
on March 6, according to the details released.
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The cell consisted of five
residents of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahir who were arrested in
The five men were indicted in Jerusalem District Court on
Thursday on counts of membership in a terrorist organization, contact with a
foreign agent, conspiring to aid the enemy in a time of war, property
transaction for the purpose of terrorism, and weapons manufacturing, among
Jerusalem Police refused to comment on whether the five
men could be connected to the terrorist attack opposite the International
Convention Center two weeks ago, when a package blew up outside a bus stop,
killing a 57-year-old Scottish woman named Mary Jane Gardener, and wounding 39
people. There is still a media blackout on the investigation into the
The Sur Bahir cell began planning its attacks on the sidelines of
Operation Cast Lead in 2009. Three of its members – Munir Atun, Ahmed Nimar and
Ahmed Dawit – met in a restaurant in Sur Bahir and discussed their frustration
with the IDF offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and their readiness to
engage in anti-Israel terrorism.
The Shin Bet said that the three men
were known Hamas operatives and had familial links to the movement. Nimar, 25,
was in an Israeli prison in 2006-2007 and his brother began serving a sentence
in 2010 for his involvement in Hamas activity and work he did on behalf of the
Hamas command in Syria.
The three assembled an improvised bomb with a gas
canister and hid it. Later, Monir and Dawit drove to Bethlehem where they bought
a pistol for $5,000.
During 2009 and 2010 the three men met often in a
coffee shop in Sur Bahir owned by Dawit and discussed plans to attack a
Jerusalem mall with a car bomb.
Early in 2010, Jihad Atun, another Hamas
operative from Sur Bahir, contacted a Hamas operative in the Gaza Strip and
asked to receive money that was intended for Hamas prisoners. About $15,000 was
sent to Atun from Jordan with the help of several money changers.
brother is serving a prison sentence for his involvement in the murder of three
Israelis, including Border Police Sgt.-Maj. Nissim Toledano, 29, in December
1992. Following the murder, 415 Palestinian terrorism suspects, mostly from
Hamas, were deported to Lebanon. Another brother was a Hamas legislator elected
to the Palestinian parliament in 2006.
The Gaza-based Hamas operative
later instructed Atun to buy a new phone and informed him that contact would be
made via encrypted e-mails. He later sent Atun a code he could use to decipher
In February, the Gaza-based operative sent Atun a message
and asked him to carry out an attack like the shooting attack at the Merkaz
Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in 2008, in which eight students were killed. The
operative transferred 10,000 Jordanian dinars to Atun and promised to transfer
20,000 more in the near future. The cell planned to buy an M-16 assault rifle
and two pistols.
At this stage, Atun was arrested by the Shin
This led the Shin Bet to Mahmoud Diwat, brother of Ahmed Diwat, the
owner of the coffee shop. Mahmoud confessed to planting the bomb in bush on
Rehov Derech Hebron in Jerusalem that was found by a Jerusalem Municipality
worker who lost part of his hand when it exploded.
Mahmoud said he had
planned to plant the bomb at a hitchhiker post in the capital’s southern Gilo
neighborhood used by residents of the Gush Etzion settlement
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.