It has been cleared for publication that Islamist terrorists were captured in early April for plotting to attack Israelis.
By Erin Viner
According to a statement communicated by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), a joint investigation in cooperation with the Israel Police of the Jerusalem District discovered and apprehended the Arab cell.
The suspects were planning to shoot Israeli civilians and public figures, including far-right Member of Knesset Itamar Ben-Gvir. They were also working on making incendiary explosive devices (IED, abduct soldiers and had already acquired an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in order to arm it and use it to attack passengers on the Jerusalem light rail.
Prominent Hamas member Rashid Rashak, a resident of the Old City, was identified as leader of the cell, which also included Hamas militant Mansur Tzafadi, another Hamas militant from the capital’s neighborhood of Abu Tor.
The terrorists’ plans also included possible suicide attacks in Jerusalem or fleeing into the West Bank cities of Hebron or Jenin after committing the crimes.
“The ISA learned that Rashak established a network of Jerusalem militants the goal of which was to cause disturbances in the city’s eastern neighborhoods and in Har Homa during this past Ramadan in order to undermine stability in the city, including on the Temple Mount,” said the statement issued by the ISA, which is also known by its Hebrew acronym, the Shin Bet. “To this end, the militants delivered many fireworks, flags and Hamas videos to eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and the Temple Mount for use during the Ramadan disturbances,” it added.
In addition to capturing the cell, the ISA and the Israel Police also confiscated the UAV, a camera intended to photograph and assist in abduct Israelis, cash for the operation and Hamas organizational equipment.
The State Attorney of the Jerusalem District is filing serious indictments against the suspects.
The ISA underscored that it and the Israel Police “will continue to take determined action in order to deal with those involved in terrorism, especially in Jerusalem, to the fullest extent of the law.”
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett issued a statement confirming that he had been fully apprised of the counter-terrorism mission to thwart the Jerusalem cell, revealing he he had instructed the ISA and law enforcement authorities “to take all necessary measures to apprehend whoever threatens the citizens of Israel.”
In another blow to the Islamist enemies of the Jewish State, the United States has imposed sanctions on a Hamas finance official as well as a network of financial facilitators and companies that have generated revenue for the Palestinian terror group.
According to Washington’s Treasury Department, the punitive measures target Hamas’ Investment Office – which holds estimated assets of over $500 million (about €468.5) including at companies operating in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions,” said Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.
The Treasury Department said in a statement that the Hamas official cited for sanctions is Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, a Kuwait-based Jordanian national and accountant who has worked in Hamas’ finance ministry for several years. Specific companies that were named include the Sudan-based Agrogate Holding, Algeria-based Sidar Company, UAE-based Itqan Real Estate JSC, Turkey-based Trend GYO and Saudi Arabia-based Anda Company.
Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri denounced the US accusations as “incorrect,” proclaiming that “they come in the course of siding with the Israeli occupation and spreading its false allegations.”
Echoing the Asst. Treasury Secretary, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that “While Palestinians in Gaza face harsh living and economic conditions under Hamas, the terrorist group has amassed hundreds of millions in its secret investment portfolio.”
He added in a statement that, “Hamas maintains a violent agenda that harms both Israelis and Palestinians. The United States is committed to denying Hamas the ability to generate and move funds and to holding it to account for its role in promoting and carrying out violence.”
The targeted “individuals and companies are being designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, which targets terrorists, leaders, and officials of terrorist groups, and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.”
Hamas has been designated at a terrorist group by Israel and many Western nations. The United States designated Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in October 1997, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001.