ISA: Reunifications a real terror threat

Twenty-five Palestinians, holders of Israeli ID cards through the family reunification program, were arrested for involvement in terror.

diskin 298 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
diskin 298 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Twenty-five Palestinians, all holders of Israeli identity cards through the family reunification program, were arrested between the beginning of 2001 and the end of 2004 by security forces for their involvement in terror attacks inside Israel. Last July, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin said that, since 2000, Palestinians with reunification residency were involved in 16 suicide bomb attacks which constituted 11 percent of 142 suicide bombings. Issued with Israeli identity cards acquired if one of their parents is an Israeli citizen, they have become attractive recruits for terror organizations operating in the West Bank and Gaza, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said. This is mainly due to their ability to travel inside Israel unrestricted, their familiarity with the local culture and the Hebrew language. Acting on behalf of the terror organizations, they are sent to compile intelligence information in preparation for an attack, stake out a suitable site where the attack should be carried out, and transport attackers and bombs or weapons to be used in the attacks. "They are Palestinians, they enjoy the privileges they are entitled to in the framework of the reunification program, yet they have no allegiance to Israel, and can move unhampered between Israel and the Territories to visit their relatives. This makes them an extremely attractive target for terror organizations," a source said. Shadi Tubasi, who was recruited by Hamas in Jenin, blew up at the Matza restaurant in Haifa on March 31, 2002, killing 15 Israelis. Tubasi was granted Israeli citizenship as her mother is from the Nazareth region. Muhammad Matsri was recruited by the Islamic Jihad to place a car bomb outside of an army base in Israel, but was arrested by security forces in March 2003 before carrying out the attack. Matsri's father is an Israeli Arab and his mother is from Kalkilya. Muhammad Mahajneh, a resident of Jenin, was arrested in May 2003 while transporting Majed Tsabah toward Hadera, where he was to have launched a shooting attack. Mahajneh has Israeli citizenship because his family lived in the Arab Israeli city of Umm el-Fahm. He was working for Hamas. Samer Atrash, who lived in the Shuafat refugee camp, was arrested after he drove a suicide bomber to the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem, where the latter blew up on Egged bus no. 6 and killed seven Israelis in May 2003. Murad Ala'an was recruited by Hamas to launch a suicide attack at the Filter cafe in Jerusalem, where he worked as a chef. Ala'an, originally from the Al-Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem, was the holder of an Israeli identity card because his mother lives in east Jerusalem. During his investigation, Murad admitted that there were a number of Palestinians, all Israeli identity-card holders in the framework of the family reunification program, who had been recruited by terrorist organizations. Another example is the Hamas cell in Jerusalem that was responsible for the suicide bombings at the Hebrew University and at Cafe Moment in Jerusalem in 2002. The cell also planned to launch attacks and blow up trains and gas tankers. Muhammad Oudeh, of east Jerusalem, placed the bomb in the Hebrew University cafeteria. Sami Abassi, also of east Jerusalem, worked in the Holon area and compiled information on access routes to be used by suicide bombers. In July 2004, Ilal Abu Taher, formerly of Rafah in Gaza but who moved to Tel Sheva in the Negev after marrying a relative, was recruited by Hamas in Gaza to abduct an IDF soldier in exchange for the release of Palestinian security prisoners incarcerated in Israel.