Suspected Jewish terror cell charged over anti-Palestinian attacks
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Suspected Jewish terror cell charged over anti-Palestinian attacks

Shin Bet says group’s 7 members — including an IDF soldier and 2 minors — indicted for arson, vandalism and stone-throwing

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: A Palestinian boy looks at a car belonging to Palestinians, which residents said was burnt by Jewish settlers, in a village near the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 2, 2015. (Flash90)
Illustrative: A Palestinian boy looks at a car belonging to Palestinians, which residents said was burnt by Jewish settlers, in a village near the West Bank city of Ramallah on October 2, 2015. (Flash90)

The Lod District Court on Monday indicted seven members of an alleged Jewish terrorist cell, accusing them of attempting to firebomb a Palestinian family as well as a litany of other attacks in the West Bank in recent months.

Members of the cell — including a 19-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier and two minors — were arrested earlier this month amid an ongoing crackdown on Jewish terror.

The 13 counts that the suspects were collectively charged consisted of membership in an illegal organization, causing grave bodily harm, throwing rocks at vehicles with the intent to harm, carrying a weapon and aggravated assault with nationalistic motives.

During interrogation some of the suspects admitted to a string of attacks against Palestinians, including arson, vandalism, rock-throwing, assault and at least one unsuccessful attempt to burn a Palestinian house with a family inside, the Shin Bet security service said in a statement earlier in April.

The suspects told investigators they were “inspired” by the Duma firebombing, a deadly terror attack carried out by Jewish extremists that killed three members of the Dawabsha family, including an 18-month-old baby, in a Palestinian village last year.

The burnt down home of the Dawabsha family in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus, July 31, 2015 (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)
Illustrative: The burnt down home of the Dawabsha family in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus, July 31, 2015 (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)

All six — Pinhas Shandorfi, 22, Itamar Ben Aharon, 20, Michael Kaplan, 20, Dana Shneur, 28, along with the two unnamed teenagers and an IDF soldier –- live in the West Bank settlements of Nahliel and Kirya Arba.

The names of the soldier and the two minors remained under a court-imposed gag order.

They were arrested earlier this month in a joint raid by the Shin Bet and and Israel Police.

The two minors, aged 16 and 17, were arrested over suspicions of committing “security transgressions against Palestinians,” police said at the time.

Police said Shneur is suspected of setting a Palestinian’s vehicle on fire, conspiring to commit a crime and being a member of an illegal organization.

Shandorfi is suspected of “security offenses,” according to the statement police, but no further details were offered. Police at the time did not say what was suspected against the other two adult suspects

Among the attacks the suspects are charged with committing was a June 2015 assault of a Palestinian farmer, who was beaten with sticks and sprayed with pepper spray.

In November of 2015, the Shin Bet said the group hurled firebombs into the West Bank home of a Palestinian family as they slept. One of the firebombs bounced off the window and landed outside the house, possibly saving the family, the security service said.

Illustrative: "Death to Arabs" spray painted on a house in Khirbet abu Falah on November 23, 2104. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Illustrative: “Death to Arabs” spray painted on a house in Khirbet abu Falah on November 23, 2104. (Courtesy)

The cell also daubed “death to Arabs,” revenge” and “Jews, awaken” on the door of the home, indicating the attack may have been intended to exact revenge for Palestinian terror attacks.

“The re-enactments and the confessions of the suspects exposed a violent and extremist organization, which systematically attacked Palestinians and their property with the full knowledge of the possibility of killing someone” the Shin Bet said.

The security service said the intelligence it gathered in a months-long investigation into the group “pointed to the existence of a Jewish terror cell in Nahliel.”

Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.

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