Two men, aged 22 and 25, have confessed to planning a terror attack in Jerusalem at the Mamilla Mall, near the Old City, police sources revealed on Sunday.
The men, who worked as cleaning staff at the mall, planned to use their access to plant a bomb in a trash can at the popular shopping center during the imminent Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) holiday season.
The men are residents of Shuafat and Ras al-Amoud, two East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and therefore have blue Israeli identity cards, allowing them access to Jerusalem without going through the security check that most West Bank Palestinians must undergo.
They were apprehended several weeks ago in a combined operation of the Israel Police, Border Police, IDF and the Shin Bet security agency.
The suspects were reportedly recruited by a Hamas cell operating out of Ramallah. In the course of the operation, the IDF uncovered the Ramallah cell’s bomb-making facility.
Three additional men, apparently from the Hamas cell, were arrested in connection with the plot, which was already at an advanced stage of planning when it was foiled, according to police.
Mamilla Mall is an upscale shopping district adjacent to Jaffa Gate that is especially popular with tourists.