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4 Arab Israelis arrested for arms dealing, rioting

Residents of central Israeli town of Jaljulia plotted shooting or firebombing attack, later dropped plan

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

Palestinian demonstrators hurl rocks at Israeli security forces during clashes in al-Bireh on the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank, on November 29, 2015.  (AFP/Abbas Momani)
Palestinian demonstrators hurl rocks at Israeli security forces during clashes in al-Bireh on the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank, on November 29, 2015. (AFP/Abbas Momani)

Israeli security forces in November arrested four Arab Israelis on suspicion of illegal arms dealing and taking part in riots, the Shin Bet domestic security service said Thursday.

The operation was carried out jointly by the Shin Bet and police special forces, the security service said.

The detainees were named as Yahya Farid Ibrahim Abu Hajlah, 22; Firas Ismail Muhammad Faki, 18; Muhammad Taysir Atman Fiyumi, 22; and Uday Kaid Hassan Kharbosh, 21. All four are residents of the central Israeli town of Jaljulia, near Kfar Saba.

According to the Shin Bet, the operation began with a joint investigation with the IDF, which led to the arrest of Fiyumi as he returned from the West Bank city of Nablus following a meeting with weapons sellers to discuss the purchase of a gun.

The remainder of the detainees were arrested in the wake of Fiyumi’s investigation, during which it emerged that he was both an arms dealer and a supporter of the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

The investigation also revealed that Abu Hajlah was involved in various forms of weapons trafficking.

An Israeli policeman patrols Temple Mount in Jerusalem, October 21, 2015. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
An Israeli policeman patrols Temple Mount in Jerusalem, October 21, 2015. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Furthermore, the Shin Bet said, the investigation showed that in October, at the height of clashes at the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the four had considered a shooting attack on a police car or firebombing the local police station in Jaljulia. Ultimately, the security service said, the four dropped the idea for fear of being caught.

Abu Hajlah, Faki and Kharbosh were also involved in rioting, burning tires and throwing stones at police officers during clashes in October, the Shin Bet said, adding that the arrests most likely stopped the four from engaging in more serious acts of terrorism.

Fiyumi and Abu Hajlah have been indicted in Lod District Court for arms dealing, while Faki and Kharbosh were charged in Lod Magistrate’s Court with causing a disturbance.

The announcement came hours after two Arab Israeli citizens from Jerusalem were indicted for planning to plant explosives at the Rio Hotel in Eilat several weeks ago.

Last month, six Arab Israelis from Jaljulia were arrested for preparing to join the Islamic State, after a seventh man successfully joined the organization by hang gliding into Syria from the Golan Heights.

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