Israeli authorities thwarted a Palestinian cell’s plot to carry out an attack on worshipers at a Jewish holy site in the West Bank, the Shin Bet security service said Tuesday.
Israeli forced arrested four Palestinians suspected of planning a bombing and shooting attack on Jewish visitors at Joseph’s Tomb, located adjacent to Nablus, according to a Shin Bet statement.
It was not clear when the arrests took place. A gag order on the arrests was lifted Tuesday.
According to the Shin Bet, the cell was armed and directed by the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad group and displayed a professional level of organization.
The four were named as Nassim Damiri, 30, of Tulkarem, who was jailed a number of times in the past and identifies with Fatah; Mahmed Damiri, 23, of Tulkarem, a Palestinian Authority police officer; Yasser Tzarawi, 25, of Rafidia, a Hamas member who was also jailed in the past; and Adwan Nazel, 24, of Qabatiya, an Islamic Jihad member.
Because it is located under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, Jewish delegations are only permitted to access the tomb once a month in coordinated visits under heavy IDF guard, but it remains strictly off-limits to Israelis at all other times.
The group planned on carrying out the attack on Jewish visitors who sneak in to pray at the site outside of the official monthly visits.
According to the plan, Nazel and Tzarawi were to procure weapons and provide logistical support, surveillance and cover, while the Damiris, who are cousins, were to carry out the actual attack.
The Nablus site, which tradition holds is the burial palce of the biblical Joseph, has been the site of Israeli Palestinian tensions in the past.
In 2011, Ben-Yosef Livnat, nephew of then Israeli minister Limor Livnat, was killed during by Palestinian police after trying to enter the tomb without permission.
The details of the investigation were transferred to a West Bank military court, and an indictment is expected to be filed in the near future.
The Islamic Jihad group has vowed to retaliate against Israel if any harm comes to former hunger-striking prisoner Mohammad Allaan.
Israel accused the group of firing four missiles from Syrian territory on Iran’s behalf that exploded in open spaces in the country’s north last week.