The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment with the city’s district court on Friday against two Arab Israeli residents of East Jerusalem who allegedly plotted to kill Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an event at the capital.
According to the indictment, Hazem Ziad Amran Sandouqa, a 22-year-old resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, and Fahdi Daoud Muhammad Abu Qaian, a 19-year-old Bedouin Israeli from the Negev, planned, along with Hamas activist Ahmad Jamal Mousa Azzam, 24, to plant explosives in the Jerusalem Payis Arena at a time when Netanyahu would be scheduled to speak at the site, Ynet reported.
The indictment said the three planned to place the device beneath the stage at the multi-purpose sports arena in Malha on a future occasion at which Netanyahu was to appear, but never set a final date for the operation.
The indictment added that the Hamas activist rented an apartment in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis and purchased explosive materials both personally as well as through the help of Sandouqa, Channel 2 reported.
Azzam, from Qalqilya in the West Bank, was arrested last month after the Shin Bet uncovered a large Hamas terror cell that planned to carry out suicide bombings and other terror attacks in Israel. The Shin Bet, alongside the Israel Defense Forces and the Israel Police, arrested 25 Hamas operatives, the majority of them students of the al-Quds University in Abu Dis, who, they suspect, were preparing to attack Israeli targets. In a statement, the agency said the cell was controlled by the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.
Sandouqa, the indictment added, obtained chemicals weighing dozens of kilograms in order to assemble explosive devices, and transferred the matériel to Azzam.
Abu Qaian, who was branded in the indictment as a supporter of the Islamic State terrorist group, was accused of planning to transfer weapons to Israel and the West Bank in order to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians.
The two men, along with Azzam, further planned to carry out a large attack in Jerusalem earlier this month, the indictment said.
The indictment also noted that Azzam had operated a makeshift laboratory in Abu Dis, which was being used to create the explosives necessary for bombing attacks.
Azzam was recruited by Hamas operatives from the Gaza Strip in order to set up a terror cell in the West Bank. The 24-year-old remained in constant contact with his controllers in the Strip, the Shin Bet said last month following his arrest.
Hamas taught Azzam, a student from al-Quds University in Abu Dis — which has campuses in East Jerusalem and el-Bireh — how to create explosive belts and vests, as well as improvised explosive devices that could be used against both civilians and security forces.
Once he became a member of Hamas, Azzam recruited other students from his university who assisted him in every aspect of the plot, from renting apartments to use as laboratories to purchasing the chemicals and materials necessary to create the explosives, as well as volunteering to act as suicide bombers in the planned attacks, according to the Shin Bet.
During Abu Qaian’s interrogation, he revealed to officers that he had accepted Azzam’s request in October 2015 to either carry out a suicide bombing with an explosive vest, or drive a car packed with explosives into some Israeli target.
In addition to the Abu Dis terror cell, the Shin Bet also busted a Bethlehem-based group that was also associated with Azzam. Some of its members also came from al-Quds University in Abu Dis, and were recruited in order to serve as suicide bombers, the agency said.
Issa Nasser Issa Shoka, a 19-year-old student at al-Quds University in Abu Dis, agreed to carry out a suicide bombing and also to help Azzam transfer money between the West Bank and Gaza.
Shoka acted as one of the leaders of the Bethlehem cell, recruiting Muhammad Waleed Ahmad Sarhkhan, 20, as well as Muhammad Na’im Issa Ali, 19, to carry out a suicide bombing and other attacks, the Shin Bet said.
“The planned wave of terror attacks proves that Hamas, led by its military wing, has removed itself from the terrible distress of the population of the [Gaza] Strip,” the agency added.
Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.