Palestinians arrested for pipe bomb attacks at Rachel’s Tomb
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Palestinians arrested for pipe bomb attacks at Rachel’s Tomb

7 suspects aged 16-18 admit preparing and using explosives, throwing rocks at holy site in Bethlehem

Illustrative: An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man stands by the intersection at the entrance to the Jewish religious site of Rachel's Tomb, surrounded by the Separation Wall, near Bethlehem, on June 26, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man stands by the intersection at the entrance to the Jewish religious site of Rachel's Tomb, surrounded by the Separation Wall, near Bethlehem, on June 26, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A group of Palestinian teens, including at least one minor, was arrested this week for planning and carrying out a series of attacks on the Rachel’s Tomb holy site in northern Bethlehem, the army said Thursday.

Seven suspects from the Aida refugee camp were detained in a number of joint operations by the IDF, Israel Police and Border Police, according to an army statement. They were all between the ages of 16 and 18.

During an initial interrogation, all seven admitted to planning and carrying out a number of attacks using improvised explosive devices and rock throwing, the statement said.

They are also accused of buying materials with the intent of making pipe bombs and coordinating plans to set them off at the holy site.

Rachel’s Tomb is believed to be the burial place of the Biblical matriarch Rachel. It is holy to Jews, Christians, Muslims and members of other world religions.

The site is in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem but is surrounded by high walls and closely guarded by the IDF. A heavily fortified road used by pilgrims connects the enclave to Jerusalem.

In August, an explosive device was discovered by officers outside the tomb, prompting them to seal off the area and call in a bomb disposal unit. After inspecting the device, a sapper disarmed it, a police spokesperson said at the time.

In separate operations overnight Wednesday, IDF troops and police arrested 14 Palestinian suspects in raids across the West Bank.

One of the detainees is a suspected activist for the Hamas terror organization, the IDF said. The remaining 13 are believed to have taken part in or led violent protests and clashes with Israeli forces referred to by the army as “popular terror.”

The suspects were transferred for questioning by security forces, the statement said.

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