Four Arab Israelis were charged Thursday with serious offenses connected to an alleged plan to assassinate an Israeli army officer in revenge for the shooting death in Gaza in March of Mazen Faqha, a Hamas terror chief. Three further suspects are in custody.
Faqha was jailed for life for orchestrating a 2002 suicide bombing that killed nine people, but was released along with more than 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was held by Hamas for five years. In Gaza, he oversaw efforts to recruit cells to carry out terror attacks from the West Bank against Israeli targets. He was killed on March 24 by unknown gunmen.
In May, Hamas executed three men it accused of the assassination and of collaborating with Israel.
The alleged revenge plot came to light after security services detained seven residents of the central Israeli town of Jaljulia, near Kfar Saba, on suspicion of dealing illegally in weapons.
One of them — Mahmood Muhammad Abed Al-Karim Daud — revealed details of two brothers involved in the attack plan while under interrogation, the Shin Bet security services revealed Thursday.
The brothers, also from Jaljulia, are Adam Ismail Muhammad Faki, born in 1992, who is known to police for criminal activity, and Firas Ismail Muhammad Faki, who is two years older, known to the security services for his support for the so-called Islamic State movement and for planning criminal and security-related activities in his hometown.
Firas Faki was one of four Jaljulia residents detained in December 2015 on suspicion of illegal arms dealing and taking part in riots.
The details form part of a charge sheet submitted by central district prosecutors to the central district court on Thursday.
According to the Shin Bet, during a trip Adam Faki took to the Gaza Strip in December 2014 for a family wedding, he was recruited to Hamas by two Hamas activists — his half brother Muhammad and another man, Hassan Al-Matsi.
While in the Strip, Adam Faki took part in military training and shooting practice. Also participating was Hassan Jabari, a senior Hamas figure and brother of the late Ahmed Jabari, who served as acting head of the terror organization’s military arm when he was killed in an Israeli Air Force strike on the enclave in 2012.
Jabari — credited with being one of the leaders of Hamas’s violent putsch to take control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 — had long topped Israel’s most-wanted list and was notorious in Israel, which blamed him for a string of attacks, including the terror infiltration which saw the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.
Despite being a stickler for personal security, Jabari personally escorted Shalit in the 2011 handover to Egyptian authorities, who then released Shalit to Israel.
Muhammad Faki told his half-brother Adam to acquire weapons, identify a victim and recruit a helper, the charge sheet said.
Adam subsequently tried to get hold of two pistols and silencers from another Jaljulia resident, Yassin Mar’ari.
Adam’s brother Faras was arrested on suspicion of having known about the plan and even of helping half-brother Muhammad to contact Adam secretly via his cellphone.
The Shin Bet said that the incident highlighted the risk of weapons circulating among criminals being transferred to terrorists.
The investigation also showed how Hamas was “exploiting Israel’s humanitarian policy” vis a vis the Gaza Strip for terrorist purposes, the Shin Bet added, using family visits and permits for merchants or patients needing medical treatment to go in and out of the enclave.
In November, the Shin Bet arrested another resident of Jaljulia suspected of planning to join IS in Syria.