Troops prevent double suicide attack

Two Palestinians caught at checkpoint in attempt to transfer explosive belts.

soldier 88 (photo credit: )
soldier 88
(photo credit: )
Haruv Batallion soldiers thwarted a double suicide bomb attack inside Israel after nabbing two Palestinian teenagers carrying belt bombs at the Beit Iba checkpoint northeast of Nablus on Friday afternoon. Haruv battalion Commander Lt.- Col. Arik Chen said that soldiers were alerted to the suspicious behavior of two Palestinian youths and stopped them for inspection. A search of their bags revealed two explosive belts, each containing an estimated seven kilograms of explosives. Security officials believe the double suicide bomb attack was to have been carried out in a populated area in the center of Israel within days. "The soldiers manning the position were alerted by the teenagers' behavior, the way they kept looking cautiously from one side to the other, they appeared unsettled," Chen said. On discovering the belt bombs, soldiers immediately isolated the teenagers, shut down the area and distanced Palestinians waiting to pass through, he said. The two teenagers were then handed over to security officials for questioning. Border Police sappers were then called in to blow up the belts, he said. "The soldiers' professionalism, alertness and rapid response prevented the bombs from blowing up somewhere in Israel," said Chen. The checkpoint was later reopened and the two suspects handed over to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for questioning. On Thursday a military policewoman manning the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus caught two Palestinian teenagers attempting to smuggle 12 pipebombs through the checkpoint. Just over two weeks ago, an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber blew himself up at an eatery near the old Tel Aviv bus station, wounding 15 Israelis, some seriously. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the army to intensify operations in northern Samaria focussing on areas considered Islamic Jihad hotbeds. Elsewhere on Saturday, security forces arrested four Palestinian near El Khader in the Bethlehem region after they were spotted throwing firebombs at Israeli vehicles. No one was wounded in the attacks. On Friday, security forces arrested 8 Palestinian fugitives in operations conducted in Nablus, Bethlehem and the Ramallah area.