East Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, October 21.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An eight-man terrorist cell in Jerusalem nicknamed the “Ghosts of Silwan” was uncovered and dismantled by Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), police and the Border Police undercover unit in recent weeks, the security organization said on Tuesday.
Eight men, who are Israeli citizens, were arrested in connection with planning to carry out shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles and other targets in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
According to the investigation the cell members were involved in several attacks in the Silwan area such as throwing Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and stones at security forces and security vehicles.
The investigation also found that the cell planned to purchase weapons in order to carry out a shooting attack against Jewish targets in Silwan, such as against Jewish vehicles or homes in the neighborhood.
According to the Shin Bet, the head of the cell identified as 19-year-old Silwan resident Muhammad Farouk was in contact with sources in Lebanon and Gaza who were financing the cell.
Other cell members arrested by security forces were identified as Amir Farouk, 19, Saud Alian, 18, Mahmud Abu Tayiah 19, Amjad Shwachi, 19, Ali Abasi, 19, all from Silwan, and Ahmad Abu Halif, 18, from the Abu Tor neighborhood near Silwan. Another member of the cell who was arrested, a minor, is suspected of planning a shooting attack, involvement in an arson attack on a security patrol car and other firebombing attacks.
“The results of the investigation reflect a rise in the characteristics of terrorist activity on the ground, inter alia due to the violent events surrounding the Temple Mount, following the attack on the Mount last July,” the Shin Bet said, adding that there has been an escalation in activity ranging from stone throwing and Molotov cocktails to shooting attacks.”
Earlier this month Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman told cabinet ministers following a deadly attack on Temple Mount that left two Israeli policemen dead, that there was a threefold increase in the number of terrorist attack warnings compared to June, stating that in July and August his agency prevented approximately 70 terrorist attacks.
Indictments against the suspects will be filed with the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday.