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East Jerusalem resident planned shooting attack in capital, police say

Suspect was allegedly part of Hamas-affiliated Kutla Islamiya student cell, whose members have tried to carry out attacks in Israel before

The arrest of an East Jerusaalem resident who was allegedly planning to carry out a shooting attack in the capital's center, July 23, 2022. (Israel Police)
The arrest of an East Jerusaalem resident who was allegedly planning to carry out a shooting attack in the capital's center, July 23, 2022. (Israel Police)

Police on Thursday announced the arrest of an East Jerusalem man who was allegedly planning on carrying out a shooting attack in the capital’s center.

According to a police statement, the Jerusalem District Police and the Shin Bet had recently launched an investigation into violent riots and alleged terror activity carried out in East Jerusalem by members of the Hamas-affiliated Kutla Islamiya student cell.

Following an undercover investigation into the group, police arrested four residents of the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood in East Jerusalem ages 18-20.

The investigation found that one of the arrested suspects had planned a terror attack in downtown Jerusalem and looked into purchasing an M16 assault rifle for tens of thousands of shekels.

The man is to be indicted on Friday.

The statement said that the four suspects arrested had all participated in East Jerusalem riots in recent months that included confronting security forces by throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks toward them.

A Jerusalem court has extended the other suspects’ detention and the investigation is ongoing.

Support for the Gaza-based Hamas terror group among Palestinian students in the West Bank has grown in recent months.

In May, Hamas supporters celebrated a landslide student election win at a top West Bank university, results experts said further point to the Islamist terror group’s growing support in the Palestinian territories.

Hamas’s Al Wafaa’ Islamic bloc won 28 of the 51 seats on the student council at Birzeit University, marking the first time candidates aligned with the Islamist terror group have gained control of the body.

The bloc aligned with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas’s secular Fatah movement won just 18 seats.

Palestinian students supporting the Islamic Hamas movement wave national and movement flags as they attend a debate ahead of student council elections at Birzeit University on the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank, on May 17, 2022. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Members of the Hamas-affiliated Kutla Islamiya student group have previously attempted to carry out attacks in Israel.

In March 2020, Israeli security forces arrested three Palestinian men, all members of Kutla Islamiya, who were planning to carry out terror attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank, including a bombing in the capital’s Teddy Stadium.

According to the Shin Bet, the three members of the terror cell initially planned to construct a bomb and set it off in Teddy Stadium, performing reconnaissance operations and other preparations before realizing that such an attack would be too difficult to carry out due to the arena’s tight security.

Instead, the trio planned to carry out bombing attacks on IDF troops in the central West Bank and attempted a number of attacks around the city of Ramallah, the Shin Bet said at the time.

According to the security service, the three men also assisted in a number of attempted bombings against Israeli troops in recent years. They had met while studying at Birzeit University in the West Bank.

Judah Ari Gross and AFP contributed to this report. 

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