Jerusalem-based Hamas cell planned to assassinate a right-wing MK and bomb public transport via an explosive drone.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The Shin Bet security agency announced Tuesday morning that it thwarted a plot by a Hamas terror cell to assassinate right-wing MK Itamar Ben-Gvir and bomb the Jerusalem light rail via an explosive drone.
In a statement, the Shin Bet and police said that the five-man Jerusalem-based cell was headed by Rashid Rashak, “a prominent Hamas operative” and a resident of the Old City.
Rashak and his co-conspirators planned to shoot Ben-Gvir and other Jewish Israelis.
Ben-Gvir blamed “left-wing incitement” for the plot, saying that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s criticism of him had paved the way for the terror group’s assasination plan.
He also thanked Israel’s security agencies for foiling the plot.
The men in the Hamas cell also devised plans for kidnapping IDF soldiers as well as an aerial assault on Jerusalem’s light rail, a staple of public transport in the city.
Police seized a drone from one of the detained men’s homes, which they were planning to modify and use as a bomb.
Mansour Safadi, from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor, was named as Rashak’s right-hand man in the statement. Safadi and Rashak drew up advanced plans for shooting or suicide bombing attacks in Jerusalem, including escape routes for the perpetrators to evade capture.
Those who carried out the attacks were instructed to hide out in the Palestinian Authority-controlled cities of Hebron and Jenin.
The five men in the cell were arrested last month, but their criminal indictments were only made public on Tuesday.
The fact that the cell is comprised of Hamas operatives is significant, as it underscores the Gaza-based terror group’s expanded foothold in Jerusalem. In recent weeks, the Hamas flag has been repeatedly raised on the Temple Mount while rioters chant pro-Hamas slogans.
The statement also indicated that Rashak and Safadi were behind some of the Ramadan violence on the Temple Mount and had recruited other Jerusalem-based Hamas supporters to their cause.
Bennett was “regularly updated on the investigation of, and the operation to thwart, the terrorist cell that planned and acted to carry out a series of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, including against MK Itamar Ben-Gvir,” read a media statement from the prime minister’s office Tuesday.
“The prime minister has instructed the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and the law enforcement authorities to take all necessary measures to apprehend whoever threatens the citizens of Israel,” the statement read.