Gained bomb-making skills during studies in Israel

East Jerusalem man with Islamic State ties charged over deadly twin bombings in city

Prosecutors say Eslam Froukh decided in September to carry out attack, detail intricate preparations he made to carry out bombings and attempt to escape

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

Eslam Froukh, the alleged terrorist behind the November 2022 bombing attacks in Jerusalem, arrives for a court hearing at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, December 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Eslam Froukh, the alleged terrorist behind the November 2022 bombing attacks in Jerusalem, arrives for a court hearing at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem, December 27, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prosecutors on Friday charged a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) terror group for a fatal double bombing attack in the capital last month.

In the attack on November 23, Eslam Froukh, 26, allegedly set off bombs at two bus stops near entrances to the capital. The attacks killed two people — 16-year-old Aryeh Schupak and 50-year-old Tadese Tashume Ben Ma’ada — and wounded over 20.

Froukh was charged with membership of a terror group, the use of weapons for the purposes of terror, aggravated murder and attempted murder through terrorist acts.

Prosecutors requested Froukh remain in police custody until the end of legal proceedings.

According to the indictment, Froukh, a resident of Kafr Aqab in East Jerusalem who lived much of the time in the Ramallah area, committed the attack because of his loyalty to IS.

As a holder of an Israeli residency card, Froukh was not hampered by the same restrictions on movement that apply to West Bank Palestinians.

Tadasa Tashume Ben Ma’ada, 50, (right) and 16-year-old Aryeh Schupak, killed in a bombing attack at the entrance of Jerusalem, November 23, 2022. (Courtesy)

Froukh studied mechanical engineering in Israel, and used his knowledge to teach himself how to make the bombs used in the attack, the indictment said.

He established a laboratory near Ramallah where he could produce and test the explosives necessary to build a bomb, according to prosecutors.

Froukh decided in September to carry out an attack, according to the charges. He purchased the required products and produced eight kilograms of explosive material at his lab.

As part of his escape plan, Froukh bought a used motorcycle, repainted it and tried to scratch off the chassis number to disguise it. He also hid a change of clothes along Route 1 towards the Dead Sea in the West Bank.

On the night before the bombings, Froukh rode his bike to the scene intending to place three explosives across two attack sites, planning to detonate one bomb and then another as security and medical forces treated the victims at the scene.

After noticing a technical problem with one of the bombs, he decided to combine it with one of the others to create a more powerful explosive, and placed it at the Ramot Junction, an entrance to Jerusalem. After that, Froukh traveled to Givat Shaul Junction, the main entrance to Jerusalem, and placed the other bomb.

Froukh then followed his escape plan and collected his change of clothes that he placed earlier. However, his motorcycle broke down while driving in the Judean Desert and he was forced to crash it near the Bedouin hamlet of Khan al-Ahmar.

Police and security personnel at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussil/Flash90

He then scattered his clothes, his helmet, a gun and remaining explosive charges in the area. In the days after the attack, security forces near the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim found the discarded belongings.

According to the charges, the first explosion occurred prematurely at Givat Shaul, shortly after 7 a.m. during peak commuter hour, where Schupak and Ben Ma’ada were killed, and over 20 were injured.

Five people were lightly hurt by shrapnel or suffered from anxiety in the second explosion at Ramot Junction, shortly after 7:30 a.m.

According to the prosecutors, a day after the attack Froukh sent a message on the Telegram messaging app to Nasher news, which carries IS news releases, to claim responsibility for the bombing.

The bombings came amid heightened tensions, following a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 31 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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