Israeli citizens indicted for planning bomb attack for Hamas

The planned attack targeted a bus station at the Bilu Junction in central Israel.

Bilu Center, next to Bilu Junction, Israel (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
Bilu Center, next to Bilu Junction, Israel
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
Two Bedouin men were indicted in the Beersheba District Court on Monday for serious security offenses after they were arrested by the Shin Bet on suspicion of planning a bomb attack on behalf of Hamas.
The indictment is concerning a planned attack on the Bilu junction that was thwarted by the Shin Bet in recent weeks after 30-year-old Mahmoud Maqdad from the Bedouin town of Shaqib al-Salam (Segev Shalom) was arrested on August 15th.
Maqdad, who was born to a Bedouin-Israeli mother and Gazan father, is married to a woman living in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave, and divides his time between Shaqib al-Salam, in the Negev near Beersheba, and Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.
Mahmoud Maqdad (Courtest Shin Bet)Mahmoud Maqdad (Courtest Shin Bet)
The Shin Bet said that Maqdad was recruited by Hamas, which took “advantage of his ability to move between Israel and the Gaza Strip” because his family was split between the two, and “this made it easier for Hamas’ military wing to recruit him and hold face-to-face meetings with him in Gaza, while at the same time giving them unique and high-quality access to Israeli territory.”
According to the agency, he was first recruited to gather intelligence on the Negev, and in recent months he was instructed and trained to carry out an explosive attack in Israel.
The investigation found that he agreed to act for Hamas as early as the end of 2019 and had collected intelligence on various sites in Israel, including providing the terror group information about the various locations of the Iron Dome missile defense system in Israel and other military-related sites.
During his last visit to Gaza, he underwent training by Hamas on how to assemble a bomb and was instructed to carry out a bomb-laying attack. Maqdad was also transferred money by the terror organization on several occasions.
When he reentered Israel in June, he purchased ammunition and began assembling the bomb as he had been instructed to while in Gaza. At the same time, he began scouting locations to carry out an attack while in secret operational contact with his handler in the Strip, and chose a bus stop at the Bilu junction in central Israel.
He eventually backed out of the decision to carry out the attack and burned the explosive materials he purchased to make the bomb. He was arrested by the security services shortly after.
According to the Shin Bet, he and nine other family members, including his 32-year-old brother Ahmad Maqdad, and acquaintances, most of them from Shaqib al-Salam, were arrested on suspicion of knowing of the plot and of being involved in the planning of the attack.
Ahmad Maqdad (Courtesy Shin Bet)Ahmad Maqdad (Courtesy Shin Bet)
The agency said that his brother knew of Maqdad’s connections to Hamas and his intentions to carry out the attack, but did not try to prevent it. “In addition, it appears that he was a partner and aided Mahmoud to collect information about the location of Iron Dome system,” the Shin Bet said.
Additional family members assisted in obtaining components that were intended to be used to assemble the bomb and other weapons.
Part of the device intended for use in an attack at Bilu Junction (Courtesy Shin Bet)Part of the device intended for use in an attack at Bilu Junction (Courtesy Shin Bet)
“Thwarting this terror attack and the significant investigation sheds further light on Hamas’ terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip that had been exposed in early 2020 as part of the arrests of other operatives with Israeli citizenship (Rajab Dacha, Rami Amudi and Aya Khatib),” the Shin Bet said, adding that Hamas continues to recruit Israeli citizens for espionage missions and to carry out terror attacks in Israeli territory.
“This is further evidence of the efforts of Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip to establish terror cells in Israel as part of systematic and extensive activities against the West Bank and Israel,” a senior Shin Bet source said adding that it “demonstrates the strategy that the Hamas leadership continues to lead to destabilize the region at the same time as the de-escalation efforts are taking place.”
“The Shin Bet will continue to work with its partners in the defense establishment to thwart any terror activity and espionage by terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” the agency said.