JERUSALEM ø Israel has foiled a Hamas suicide bombing in this city.
Israeli officials said Hamas's network in the northern West Bank city of
Nablus sent a suicide bomber to blow himself up in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim
neighborhood on May 16. They said a 20 kilogram-bomb was sent from Nablus
for the attack in Jerusalem.
The Hamas operative was meant to enter a synagogue in Jerusalem and blow
himself up, officials said. They said Israeli security forces foiled the
plan in its advanced stage.
Hamas has been planning a series of major suicide attacks against
Israeli civilian targets to avenge the assassination of Hamas leaders Ahmed
Yassin and Abdul Aziz Rantisi, Middle East Newsline reported. But the insurgency group has been hampered by
enhanced Israeli intelligence, a damaged operational command and dwindling
Officials described an extensive Hamas cell in Jerusalem, with members
in the Old City and the northern A-Ram neighborhood. The members
included Jerusalem residents and Palestinians from Nablus who infiltrated
Jerusalem as laborers.
Two former Nablus residents were said to have confessed to transporting
the Hamas bomb in a false bottom of their vegetable cart. Officials said a
suicide attacker was supposed to have detonated the bomb in Jerusalem either
manually or by cellular phone.
But Hamas was unable to transport the bomb from A-Ram to Jerusalem
because of the heavy presence of police and soldiers, officials said.
Instead, the bomb was then moved to the nearby Beit Hanina neighborhood in
Hamas was also said to have failed to send a suicide attacker from
Nablus to Jerusalem, officials said. They said the suicide attacker has been
identified by Israeli authorities, but remained at large.
"Terrorists in Samaria [northern West Bank] have recently begun to
transfer the focus of their activities south toward Jerusalem and Judea as a
result of the completion of the security fence in Samaria and their
concomitant inability to perpetrate attacks inside Israel from there," a
government statement said.
Officials said the Hamas cell in Nablus was led by Said Kutub. Kutub was
killed in a bombing in Nablus on May 24 as he and his colleagues were
preparing explosives, officials said.
Authorities said a Jerusalem resident, Husam Nabolsi, 38, was arrested
and charged with participating in the plot. They said Nabolsi told
authorites that he had been recruited to Hamas and ordered to store the bomb
until a suicide bomber from Nablus was to have arrived to carry out the
Israeli forces arrested the recruiter of Nabolsi in Nablus, identified
as Said Tabangeh. Tabangeh was to have carried out the suicide bombing in
Jerusalem. Officials said the Hamas cell also contained a Fatah operative.