JERUSALEM ø Israel has foiled a major Palestinian suicide attack.
Israeli officials said authorities arrested a 17-year-old would-be
suicide bomber in a mission planned by the ruling Fatah movement. They said
Hizbullah ordered and financed the operation.
The insurgency cell was based in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Officials said the Israeli military captured several members of the suicide
bombing cell, including the handler of the suicide bomber and the truck
driver of the bomb.
The capture of the insurgents capped a day of intense efforts on July 14
to locate the suicide bomber. Authorities had blocked major roads north of
Tel Aviv in an attempt to stop the bomber, said to be heading to an
unspecified Israeli city.
So far, officials said, authorities have foiled four suicide bombings in
July. They said Nablus has been the center of Palestinian suicide
attacks in Israel and underground laboratories have produced suicide
Ahmed Ali Bushkar, the would-be suicide attacker, and his colleagues
were arrested in Mesha, a West Bank village near the so-called Green Line,
which signifies Israel's 1967 borders. The Mesha area has so far not been
included in the security fence and barrier.
Officials said a truck driver was to have brought the explosive belt to
Bushkar. They said the plot was discovered when the belt meant for Bushkar
prematurely exploded in the truck. Israeli forces arrested the Nablus truck
"The Tanzim [Fatah] terrorists used local furniture carpentry shops as a
launching pad for suicide attacks," an Israeli security source said. "This
is because these places contain hiding spots such as delivery trucks loaded
with furniture and are close to Israeli civilian population centers."
The Hizbullah-financed insurgency cell was also said to be responsible
for sending another Palestinian teenager to commit a suicide attack in March
2004, an act never completed. Israeli military sources said Hizbullah
has been financing and directing up to 70 insurgency cells in the West Bank.
In the southern West Bank, Israeli soldiers killed a Hamas commander in
a shootout in Hebron. The insurgent was identified as Malek Nasser Eddin,