Hamas chemical bomb makers arrested

Security officials say Nablus cell involved in manufacturing explosives for use in a Tel Aviv attack.

belt 224.88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
belt 224.88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
A Hamas cell that was plotting suicide attacks inside Israel with chemical explosives was arrested in May by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF, security officials announced Tuesday. The cell, the officials said, was involved in manufacturing a bomb belt that was discovered in a Tel Aviv apartment on Yom Kippur, last September, and was designated for use in a suicide attack in the city. The IDF arrested four members of the cell, all in their 20s and residents of Nablus. One member of the cell, Ayman Awad served a prison sentence in Israel for involvement in dispatching a suicide bomber several years ago. During their interrogation, the four cell members confessed to having built a laboratory in a Nablus apartment building where they experimented bomb building with different chemical materials, such as sulfur and nitric acid. The four said they used an instructional video that was prepared by a senior Hamas bomb maker who was killed in 2002 during clashes with IDF troops. Meanwhile, the IDF stepped up its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank. Soldiers carried out an early-morning raid on a Nablus shopping mall that the army said was affiliated with the terrorist group, seizing the five-story mall and ordering the building's 70 shop owners to vacate the premises by mid-August. "Anyone found in this center after August 15 will be considered as working on behalf of Hamas and puts himself and his properties in danger," said an order posted in shop windows. "Profits made by stores are used to sponsor terror," a defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Tuesday's raid came a day after Israeli troops swooped down on other alleged Hamas targets in Nablus. They shut down a girls' school, a medical center and two other facilities of a Hamas-affiliated charity, witnesses said. Elsewhere in the West Bank, the IDF lifted a two-day curfew from the Palestinian village of Na'alin. The army imposed the curfew on Sunday after violent anti-security fence protests. AP contributed to this report