3 Palestinians charged with planning attack for Hamas

East Jerusalem residents who allegedly wanted to gun down Israeli soldiers in the West Bank were known to security forces

Israeli security forces patrol the entrance of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher in September 2015. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90
Israeli security forces patrol the entrance of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher in September 2015. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged three Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem with planning to carry out an attack against Israelis on behalf of the Hamas terrorist group.

According to the indictment filed at the Jerusalem District Court, Naseem Hamada, Izz al-Din Atun and Obeida Amira were “terrorist operatives” known to Israeli security services.

The three, all from East Jerusalem’s Sur Baher neighborhood, were charged with contact with a foreign agent, membership in a terrorist organization and conspiring to carry out a terror attack.

A fourth suspect, identified only as A.A., was under investigation for suspected involvement in planning the attack, but the state prosecutor’s office has yet to decide whether to file charges against him.

The charge sheet said Hamada, Atun and Amira were arrested in “recent weeks” after a joint police-Shin Bet operation uncovered their plan to open fire on IDF soldiers at a bus stop outside the settlement of Oranit, in the central West Bank.

During interrogation, Hamada revealed that he was the group’s ringleader, and was taking orders from Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip.

The investigation also revealed that Atun and Amira traveled to Turkey last year to visit Hamas figures Mahmoud Atun and Musa Azari, who were exiled under the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, and received thousands of dollars to help fund the attack.

Prosecutors have asked the court to remand the suspects in custody until the end of the legal proceedings against them.

Earlier this year, the Shin Bet accused Turkey of helping Hamas launder money for its military activities, and asserted that Ankara was in “direct contact” with the Palestinian terrorist group.

The security service said that Zaher Jabarin, a senior Hamas operative who also settled in Turkey after being expelled in the 2011 prisoner exchange, was smuggling money into the West Bank to fund terror attacks. Jabarin, who is also an Israeli citizen, was arrested in January with 91,000 euros in cash on him, which Israeli authorities said he intended to hand over to the terrorist group.

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