Hamas monitoring Israeli defense firms as potential targets

Monday, August 9, 2004

TEL AVIV Hamas has targeted Israel's defense sector as part of the Palestinian war against the Jewish state.

Israeli security sources said the Islamic insurgency movement has been monitoring and targeting leading Israeli defense companies. The sources said Hamas decided to target the defense firms as part of an effort to strike a strategic blow to Israeli interests.

One target designated by Hamas was Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority. The sources said Hamas sought to attack either Rafael's facility in Haifa or its employees.

Rafael has designed and developed many of the air- and land-based weapons used in Israeli operations against Palestinian insurgents. They included the Spike ER extended-range anti-tank missile, said to have been used in the assassination Hamas leaders and other senior operatives in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas plot to attack Israel's defense industry was disclosed during an investigation of a Hamas operative. The sources said Zaher Ali, an Israeli Arab student at Hebrew University, was authorized by Hamas to designate targets for suicide and other attacks.

Ali, a 31-year-old resident of northern Israel and a teacher in the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Safafa, was arrested on July 15. Ali was said to be working for Hamas cell in Hebron, which sought suicide bombing targets in Israel.

Security sources said Ali had proposed a Hamas attack on a daily shuttle bus that brought employees to Rafael's facility in Haifa. The sources said Hamas examined Ali's plan to attack a busload of Rafael workers as they left their factory for the western Galilee. The plan called for Hamas gunmen to come from Jerusalem with guns and grenades to carry out the strike.

Ali, accompanied by Hamas agent Na'al Jalad, also chose other targets for Hamas suicide bombings meant to affect Israel's defense sector. They included a popular cafe in Hebrew University frequented by military cadets who studied engineering and science to prepare for advanced technology positions in the Israel Defense Forces and state-owned defense industries.

"Ali admitted to also having suggested the following attacks to Jalad," an Israeli government statement said, "An attack on soldiers at Golani junction, an attack on soldiers studying at Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus, and an attack on a bus carrying workers to a security-related factory in the Galilee. To this end, Ali gathered intelligence on a plant near his Galilee village."

The security sources said Hamas has been recruiting Israeli Arabs to exploit their freedom of movement as well as knowledge of Israeli society. For his part, Ali told Israeli investigators that he saw the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a war between Jews and Muslims.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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