8 indicted in plot to use explosive drones in Jaffa assassination

The plot was thwarted after a foreign citizen noticed the drone carrying the explosive in Jaffa.

 View of a new security drone in Efrat, in the West Bank (photo credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90)
View of a new security drone in Efrat, in the West Bank
(photo credit: GERSHON ELINSON/FLASH90)

Eight Israeli Arabs were indicted on Thursday for plotting to use explosive drones to assassinate an unknown individual in Jaffa as part of a dispute between criminal organizations.

Israel Police stated on Thursday morning that the assassination was planned by a criminal organization of seven individuals. The suspects were caught after an undercover investigation by the central investigative unit of the Tel Aviv district.

According to the indictment, two of the suspects, Yahya Abu Jabbar and Omar Sarsour, were arrested in Jaffa after attempting to launch the drone.

Police were alerted to the plot after a Filipino citizen riding a bike on Jerusalem Avenue in Jaffa noticed a drone resting on a low stone wall with an object underneath it that he suspected was an explosive device. The man contacted police and informed them of the drone and police sappers were able to thwart the attempted assassination.

Shortly afterwards, a number of other suspects began plotting to assassinate an unknown individual by using two drones, a military demolition block and two cell phones to activate the explosive. 

Drone assassination plot thwarted in Jaffa, January 2023 (Credit: Israel Police)

The suspects listed in the indictment included Omar Taha, Ahmad Frij, Noor Sarsour and Khaled Zarzur from Kafr Kassem and Muhammad Abu Kutub and Muhammad Nadi from Tel Aviv.

Case reflects a 'step up in the criminal world'

"It should be emphasized that the offenses attributed to the respondents were committed near residential buildings and at a time when people are on the street. Miraculously, the placing of the explosive did not result in bodily injuries," wrote attorney Schloss Lazerovitch.

"This case reflects a step up in the world of crime, criminal use of innovative technology of remotely activating an explosive charge using a drone could have turned the Israeli street into a battlefield of wounded and dead. The failure to activate the explosive does not reduce in the least the danger of the respondents who did not hesitate to carry out a bloody attack in the city of Jaffa and their activity was stopped only due to external circumstances and thanks to the vigilance and determination of the police."

Abu Jabbar, Omar Sarsour, Noor Sarsour, Taha, Frij, Nadi and Abu Kutub were charged the offense of conspiracy to commit a crime. Abu Jabbar and Omar Sarsour were also charged with the offense of possession and transport of a weapon and ammunition without a license and of an attempt to destroy property with an explosive. Nadi, Taha and Frij were also charged with possession of a weapon without a license.