The Israel Police Yasam Special Anti-Terrorism Patrol Unit prevented a major attack in the coastal city.
By Erin Viner
A 19-year-old resident of the Palestinian city of Nablus was captured at the Clock Tower in the Tel Aviv– Jaffa municipality Thursday afternoon, in possession of an AK47 automatic rifle and two explosive devices.
The suspect, who had illegally infiltrated the country, confessed to having planned a mass casualty attack against Israelis. He had previously been arrested in May while carrying a knife near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Investigation has been launched into the Palestinian’s background to ascertain whether he is affiliated with terror groups, how he entered Israel and obtained the weapons.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said “a significant terrorist attack” in “the heart of the country” had been prevented, and personally commended two Yasam officers who captured the suspect.
“The entire State of Israel thanks you for your heroism. You saved many lives. I don’t want to think what would have happened if you hadn’t been nearby,” the Prime Minister told Master Sergeant Mohavao Mengistu and Sergeant Major Sharif Hasson. “Thanks to the work of the Israel Police and the security forces, the citizens of Israel can sleep soundly. I’m proud of you all,” he added.
“The State of Israel will act harshly and uncompromisingly against those who try to harm us,” pledged Lapid in earlier reaction to capture of the attempted terrorist, stressing that, “We must continue to act with all tools in order to restore security stability to the region.”
Earlier in the day, Lapid held a situation assessment with the defense establishment at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv due to the recent spike in terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). Participating in the discussion were the Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) Director Ronen Bar, National Security Council Head Dr. Eyal Haluta, Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz, as well as the Prime Minister’s Military Secretary, IDF Intelligence Chief, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and additional senior officials.
Defense Minister Gantz stressed that the security establishment will “increase targeted operations against terrorism in Judea and Samaria and everywhere,” including the deployment of “additional forces and means, strengthen the cooperation between the security organizations, speed up the construction of the seam barrier.”
Israeli Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev issued a statement saying that the Yasam capture of the attempted terrorist “ testifies to the determination, operational experience, vigilance and pursuit of contact by the police officers, and they deserve all the praise for that.”
“It has been proven once again that the policemen of Israel Police stand at the forefront of the fight against Palestinian terrorism, and with their bodies stand between the terrorists and the citizens of Israel,” he added.
In other overnight violence, a Palestinian terrorist was shot dead after attacking an Israeli soldier with a hammer near the central West Bank village of Beitin.
According to the IDF, troops were conducting a routine operation near Binyamin Regional Council shortly after midnight when the assailant lunged at the soldier, who responded with live fire. A knife was also found during search of the suspect’s body.
The IDF sustained only minor wounds to his head. He did not require hospitalization after receiving treatment at the scene, said the Israeli military.
The assailant was identified by the Palestinian Authority as 17-year-old Haitham Hani Mubarak.
The latest surge of violence comes amid soaring tensions in the West Bank.
IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) and police forces have repeatedly come under attack during nightly raids during ongoing counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria as part of Operation Waves Breaker launched in response to the wake of a deadly surge of attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people between March and May 2022.
More than 1,500 wanted Palestinian terror suspects have been captured and hundreds of weapons confiscated during at least 2,050 counterterrorism operations by Israeli security forces over the past four months.
According to the ISA, 172 attacks were carried out against Israeli targets in August, including 23 shootings, compared with 113 attacks and 15 shootings a month prior. The number of firebombs thrown at troops spiked from 75 in July to 135 last month.