TEL AVIV Ñ An Iranian-backed Palestinian insurgency group has made
serious inroads in the Arab community in Israel.
Israeli officials said authorities have uncovered numerous links between
Islamic Jihad and Arab citizens in a range of communities in Israel. They
said Jihad, with financing from Iran, has recruited Israeli Arabs in
contacts in the West Bank as well as abroad.
Authorities have disclosed arrests of two Jihad cells composed of
Israeli Arabs in as many days. On Wednesday, the Jihad cell was said to have
been composed of Israeli Arabs from Jaljulia east of Tel Aviv. On Thursday,
Arab suspects from the northern town of Kafr Manda were arrested.
"This is a trend and we can no longer play it down," a senior Israeli
security official said. "What we don't want to do is accuse the entire
Israeli Arab community and then make them feel they have nothing to lose by
The Kafr Manda cell was allegedly composed of three Arab citizens.
Officials said the suspects were planning to launch attacks on nightclubs in
The suspects were said to have confessed to establishing the Jihad cell
last month. Officials said a Jihad agent contacted the head of the cell,
Mahmoud Abdul Khalim when he was on a pilgrimage to the Saudi city of Mecca
in November 2002. The Jihad agent was said to have been based in the Gaza
"When Khalim returned to Israel, Islamic Jihad terrorists contacted him
and asked him to establish a military cell in order to perpetrate attacks,"
a statement by the Israel Security Agency said. "Khalim recruited Ibrahim
Abdul Khamid and Mohammed Abdel Khamid, who agreed to work with him. The
three planned to plant a bomb in a crowded place in the Haifa area and
obtain weapons from Negev Bedouins."
Officials said Hamas, Jihad and other Islamic insurgency groups have
tried to recruit Israeli Arabs during their pilgrimage to Mecca. Saudi
Arabia allows thousands of Israeli Arabs to make the trip.
In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, Israeli forces captured and
interrogated about 1,000 Palestinians from the nearby refugee camp. Israeli
military sources said a search of the camp uncovered fertilizers and other
chemical agents that could be used in bombing attacks. They said Anwar
described as the commander of Islamic Jihad, was capture. Ilyan was said to
have planned to bring a car full of explosives into Israel for a suicide