Police nab East Jerusalem teens with bag of firebomb ingredients

Gasoline, bottles, funnel, cloth found in backpack of Jabel Mukaber residents who said they planned to attack cops

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Firebomb ingredients discovered in a backpack owned by two East Jerusalem teenagers who were arrested in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of the capital in May 2017. (Israel Police)
Firebomb ingredients discovered in a backpack owned by two East Jerusalem teenagers who were arrested in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood of the capital in May 2017. (Israel Police)

Prosecutors are to file indictments against two East Jerusalem teenagers who were arrested by police last week near a guard post in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood with a backpack full of firebombs and ingredients to make more, police said.

Early last week, the two 17-year-olds were spotted approaching a police post on Meir Nakar street, which separates Jabel Mukaber from the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv.

As police officers walked up to the teenagers, who had a “heavy and full-looking backpack,” they smelled gasoline. Upon searching the bag, police found two prepared firebombs, as well as a large plastic bottle full of gasoline, seven empty glass bottles, a cloth shirt, a roll of tape and a knife — all the items necessary to build a Molotov cocktail.

The name “Bahaa Allyan” was also written on the bag in Arabic. Allyan was a terrorist from Jabel Mukaber who in 2015 took part in a combined shooting and stabbing attack on a bus in Armon Hanatziv. Allyan, along with Bilal Abu Ghanem, killed three Israeli passengers and wounded others. In a shootout with police, Allyan was fatally wounded and died on the scene. He quickly became a symbol to many Palestinians.

The officers arrested the two teenagers, bringing them in for questioning at a nearby station. The police said they believed the teenagers were going to stash the bag along the road.

During their interrogation, the suspects admitted that they were planning to firebomb the guard post on Meir Nakar street, police said.

A prosecution statement — the first step before a full indictment, in the Israeli legal system — was filed in court against the suspects, enabling police to continue holding them in custody until the charges can be filed.

In a statement, a police spokesperson lauded the arresting officers for their “awareness and professionalism,” which “prevented an attempt by these teenagers to harm police troops.”

The number of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem and the West Bank spiked in the last month as Palestinians demonstrated in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners currently in Israeli jails. The hunger strikers ended their fast last week after more than 40 days.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

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