Israel busts Islamic cell that planned to assassinate defense minister

Israel thwarted a recent attempt by Islamic Jihad terrorists to assassinate Defense Minister Liberman. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Israel’s combined security forces were recently successful in exposing and thwarting an assassination plot against Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman by an Islamic Jihad terror cell, the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) revealed Sunday.

The six-member terror cell, exposed in recent weeks, operated in the Bethlehem area near Liberman’s residence in the Israeli community of Nokdim. The terrorists had planned to bomb his convoy and carry out shooting attacks against Israeli targets in the area.

The cell included Awad Mahmoud al-Askara, 25, of Bethlehem, who was incarcerated by Israel from 2015 to 2017 for plotting a terrorist attack.

Another leader, Muhammad Ali Ibrahim al-Askara, 32, has twice been imprisoned for planning attacks and preparing an explosive charge to use in an attack.

The two terrorists operated to secure explosives for the attack and approached terror elements in Gaza for financial support. After failing to receive the funding, they prepared a mock bomb – in order to prove their seriousness to the Gaza elements – which was uncovered during their arrests.

Funding for terror encouraged would-be assassin

The investigation revealed that one of the cell members was motivated to carry out an attack with the hope of being arrested and incarcerated so that he could receive a stipend from the Islamic Jihad terror group.

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This was not the first Palestinian attempt to take Liberman’s life. In 2014, during his tenure as foreign minister, a Hamas plot to assassinate him was exposed and thwarted by Israel’s security forces. The would-be assassins planned to fire an RPG rocket at his cavalcade as he was on his way home through Gush Etzion. The Shin Bet arrested four Arabs in connection with the plot.

The cell conceived the idea for the recent assassination attempt in the summer of 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, and began to gather intelligence on Liberman’s movements but had not yet obtained the weapon with which they intended to execute the attack.

The cell members were indicted at a military court on Sunday.

“These terror plans reflect growing efforts by the Islamic Jihad and Gaza-based terror groups to escalate their activities in Judea and Samaria,” the Shin Bet stated, pointing to ongoing efforts by local terror cells to seek material support from Gaza. “The security establishment will continue to operate with determination to thwart this activity and warns Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip of the repercussions of carrying out these attacks in Judea and Samaria, with the guidance of terror elements in Gaza.”