Shin Bet foils Hamas suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem
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Shin Bet foils Hamas suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem

Shuafat refugee camp resident was allegedly days away from carrying out attack, directed by Hamas in Gaza; said bombings 'the way of God'

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

Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, 22, from the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem is taken into the Jerusalem District Court for his indictment after being arrested for planning a large-scale terror attack in the city, on October 11, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, 22, from the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem is taken into the Jerusalem District Court for his indictment after being arrested for planning a large-scale terror attack in the city, on October 11, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An East Jerusalem man was indicted Tuesday for planning to carry out a suicide bombing on a bus in the capital, officials said.

On September 9, the Shin Bet security service arrested alleged Hamas operative Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp, a few days before he planned to carry out his attack, the agency said.

Over the past few months, Julani, 22, had been planning to carry out a terror attack on behalf of Hamas, the Shin Bet said.

In September, he told an accomplice he planned to carry out the suicide bombing as “this is the way of God,” according to the indictment.

The Hamas terror group’s operatives in the Gaza Strip had been in contact with Julani through the internet in order to plan the bombing and had also encouraged him to recruit other people to carry out attacks, according to the indictment filed against him Tuesday in the Jerusalem District Court.

Palestinian members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display Qassam home-made rockets during an anti-Israel military parade on August 21, 2016 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinian members of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, display Qassam home-made rockets during an anti-Israel military parade on August 21, 2016 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

“This investigation reiterates and highlights the unrelenting effort by Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip to instigate severe terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Though Julani ultimately decided to carry out a suicide bus bombing in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem, according to the Shin Bet, he said in his interrogation he had also considered a shooting attack with an AK-47 assault rifle near the Hizme checkpoint; bombing a store where he had worked in 2011; throwing an improvised explosive device at the checkpoint in Shuafat; and pipe bomb attacks in high-traffic locations of Jerusalem, like the bus station and the Malha shopping mall.

Approximately a year ago, Julani had also considered carrying out a stabbing attack in Pisgat Ze’ev, going so far as to purchase a 6-inch (15-centimeter) knife and travel to the Jerusalem neighborhood, “but decided not to carry out the attack for fear that his parents’ home would be demolished,” according to the indictment.

Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Temple Mount compound prior to the third Friday prayers of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on June 24, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound prior to the third Friday prayers of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on June 24, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)

Instead, the East Jerusalem resident decided to carry out a suicide bombing after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which was celebrated from September 12 to 16. By carrying out his attack after the holiday, Julani hoped to prevent Israel from restricting Muslims’ access to the Temple Mount during the holiday, according to the Shin Bet.

The NIS 7,000 ($1,850) needed for the operation was allegedly provided by a resident of Hebron, identified in the indictment only as “Abu Muhammad,” who also helped carry out some tests with the chemicals he purchased so that Julani could create his device.

When Julani was arrested on September 9, he had already purchased the materials necessary to create his bomb, including nails that he planned to pack into the device to maximize the damage.

It was his second time he purchased ingredients necessary for a bomb, since when Julani’s father discovered at some point over the summer that his son had been planning an attack, the 22-year-old “begged for forgiveness from his father and threw out the materials he had purchased,” according to the indictment.

At some point in August, Julani again decided to carry out his attack and purchased the materials necessary for a second time, according to the Jerusalem district attorney.

Two members of Julani’s family, Mehmed and Iyad Julani, were also arrested for allegedly helping him hide his illegal weapons.

Julani was charged with planning to assist the enemy in wartime, contact with a foreign agent, being a member of a terrorist organization and illegal use of property for the purpose of terror.

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