A middle-aged Arab resident of East Jerusalem tried repeatedly to tamper with gas lines and blow up residential buildings in the Jewish neighborhoods of Gilo and Armon Hanatziv, the Shin Bet security service said in a statement Wednesday.

Aziz Awizat, a resident of Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, confessed under questioning that the accidental gas explosion that killed three people in Jerusalem in mid-January served as an inspiration. Awizat is a member of Hamas, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.

“Subsequently, Awisat reached the decision to carry out an attack along similar lines, with the intent of toppling a building, resulting in the deaths of its Jewish inhabitants,” the Shin Bet wrote.

On February 23, Awisat, 49, approached a building on Alexander Rubowitz Street in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem. He tampered with the gas lines, the Shin Bet said, with the express intent of starting a fire and detonating the building.

Aziz Awizat (photo credit: courtesy of Shin Bet)

Aziz Awizat (photo credit: courtesy Shin Bet)

Several days later, in early March, he tried again, in both Armon Hanatziv and Gilo. Although, in one instance, he left a lit candle alongside the building’s gas pipes, the gas did not ignite and no damage was done.

Awizat, arrested in March, also confessed to an April 2012 attack outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. At the time, he assaulted an ultra-Orthodox Jew with an ax, lightly injuring him. Awizat’s interrogation, the Shin Bet said, is ongoing.