Israel stops major suicide bomb attack

Special to World
Friday, July 16, 2004

JERUSALEM 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 explosive belts.

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 driver.

"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, 35.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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