Shin Bet: Hamas planned suicide car bombing around Israeli election

Palestinian suspect arrested last month over plot to carry out attack in Ma’ale Adumim and ‘derail’ West Bank stability

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

Soldiers cast their ballots on April 9, 2019 (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers cast their ballots on April 9, 2019 (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israeli military last month arrested a Hamas operative suspected of planning a suicide car bombing to coincide with Israel’s national elections, the Shin Bet security service said Sunday.

The suspect, 23-year-old Yahya Abu Dia, was arrested on March 31 in his hometown of az-Za’ayyem, the Shin Bet said.

News of the arrest was initially censored by the military, but the ban was removed ahead of his slated indictment later this week.

According to the security service, Abu Dia received his orders from Hamas members in the Gaza Strip.

“In his interrogation by the Shin Bet, Abu Dia said he was in touch with senior Hamas members in the Gaza Strip using the internet, had been recruited for military activities, and agreed to carry out missions and act as a suicide bomber,” the Shin Bet said.

Alleged Hamas operative Yahya Abu Dia. (Shin Bet)

The security service said that by the time he was arrested in late March, Abu Dia had begun preparing to carry out the attack.

“Abu Dia was instructed to purchase a car and rent a storage facility in order to prepare the car bomb and also to track the best site for the attack in the area of Ma’ale Adumim, somewhere where there would be a high concentration of buses, civilians and soldiers,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The alleged Hamas operative also filmed himself reading a will, with a Hamas scarf around his head.

The security service said the attack was planned to coincide with the elections, but did not indicate when precisely it was meant to take place.

The Shin Bet said the plot was part of Hamas’s ongoing efforts to carry out attacks in the West Bank in order to throw the region into chaos and violence.

“The terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is working all the time to recruit Hamas operatives from the West Bank to carry out murderous terror attacks in order to derail the security and stability of the area,” the security service said.

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