Shin Bet busts terror cell planning to shoot up IDF base in the capital
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Shin Bet busts terror cell planning to shoot up IDF base in the capital

Eight East Jerusalem residents began plotting attack while in prison for lesser offenses, security agency says

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The IDF's Ofrit base near the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem. (John832/Wikimapia)
The IDF's Ofrit base near the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem. (John832/Wikimapia)

A terror cell made up of East Jerusalem teenagers planning to carry out a shooting attack on an IDF base in the capital was arrested in recent days, the Shin Bet security service announced Friday.

The group, which allegedly included members of the Hamas terrorist organization, was made up of eight Arab Israeli residents of the Tsur Baher and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, the Shin Bet said.

The security agency would not specify when exactly the arrests were made, but said they happened in the month of November.

The eight members of the cell, most of them minors, began planning their attacks while in prison. They had been picked up throughout 2015 for taking part in riots, the Shin Bet said.

While locked up, the group decided to carry out a shooting attack on an army base next to the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus. Upon their release, some of the cell members began staking out the base and finding the best ways to carry out the attack, the Shin Bet said.

After their arrest, some of the cell members also admitted to having taken part in more violent demonstrations during Ramadan this summer and during memorials for terrorists, the security service said.

In a statement, the Shin Bet noted that the “grave danger of assailants with Israeli documentation, who enjoy free movement and access to weapons, and the relative ease with which they can carry out attacks.”

On Thursday, the security agency revealed that in October it had broken up a Hamas terror cell that had been plotting to kidnap IDF soldiers in the Hebron area.

IDF troops arrest a suspected Hamas cell in the Hebron area during a joint raid with the police and Shin Bet in October, which was announced on December 8, 2016 (screen capture: YouTube)
IDF troops arrest a suspected Hamas cell in the Hebron area during a joint raid with the police and Shin Bet in October, which was announced on December 8, 2016 (screen capture: YouTube)

Six members of the seven-person cell were arrested throughout the month of October, and a number of assault rifles and pistols were also found and confiscated, the Shin Bet security service said.

The seventh member and alleged mastermind of the cell, Ibrahaim Abdallah Ghnimat, is accused of planning the kidnapping operations from a prison cell, as he is currently serving a life sentence for his role in a slew of terror attacks in the 1990s, including the kidnapping and murder of an IDF soldier, Sharon Edri.

According to the Shin Bet, the cell had planned to carry out shooting attacks along with the kidnappings, whose purpose was “to bargain for the release of prisoners.”

“The discovery of this cell points to the high motivation of Hamas operatives, both in the field and in prison, to carry out serious attacks, including shootings and kidnappings,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

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