(photo credit: IDF)
Hamas is under orders to perpetrate a large terrorist attack in an Israeli city to undermine the peace summit scheduled for November, senior defense officials said Saturday, hours after a Yom Kippur suicide attack was thwarted by an arrest and the capture of an explosives belt in Tel Aviv.
Security officials said intelligence on the imminent attack was obtained by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) from the head of Hamas in Nablus, Niad Shakrit, who was arrested late Thursday night by the IDF's Duvdevan undercover unit, ending a four-day operation in the West Bank city.
During the operation last week, the army arrested 49 suspects, including a suicide bomber who was supposed to use the belt that was captured on Saturday in Tel Aviv.
The explosives belt was found in an apartment in south Tel Aviv's Rehov Fijoto. Policemen and Shin Bet operatives who raided the apartment were attacked by a group of Palestinians who had illegally entered Israel in search of work. One of the policemen had his nose broken in the scuffles and was taken to hospital.
Border Police sappers destroyed the bomb belt in a controlled explosion on the sand dunes between Rishon Lezion and Holon.
"Hamas is doing everything it can to perpetrate an attack in the near future, in an effort to spoil the planned US-sponsored peace summit set for November," a defense official said. "They are trying harder, which means we also need to try harder to stop them."
Shakrit had told the Shin Bet that a man from Nablus named Mhadi Ashur was living illegally in Tel Aviv and knew where the explosives belt was hidden.
Police immediately began scouring south Tel Aviv. Ashur was located on Saturday and led security forces to the belt.