Two IS supporters planned Independence Day terror attacks in Jerusalem

The men, both residents of East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, attempted to join jihadist group’s Sinai branch earlier this year

People watch fireworks during a show to mark Israel's 71st Independence Day in Jerusalem on May 8, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
People watch fireworks during a show to mark Israel's 71st Independence Day in Jerusalem on May 8, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Two Palestinian men were indicted Sunday for planning a terror attack targeting Israeli revelers during the nation’s upcoming Independence Day in April.

The two, 21-year-old Ahmad Ja’abis and 19-year-old Basel Abidat, are residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber.

According to the indictment filed by Jerusalem prosecutors, they became interested in the Islamic State terror group in 2016, studied bomb-making and rocket construction online, and tried to join the organization’s “Sinai Province” branch in Egypt earlier this year.

Abidat attempted to cross into Sinai through Jordan in June, but was stopped by Jordanian border police, the indictment said.

Ja’abis, meanwhile, raised NIS 2,000 ($576) for IS and sent it to the group through an unnamed third party.

In September, with their attempts to join IS in Sinai stymied, the two discussed ways to carry out terror attacks against Israelis instead.

They considered shooting attacks at popular public venues on Independence Day, such as Jerusalem’s Safra Square and Sultan’s Pool, or more limited stabbing attacks if they failed to obtain firearms. They also discussed a shooting attack against a military base in the Jordan Valley. Independence Day 2020 begins on the evening of April 28.

The attacks, the indictment charges, were intended “to kill as many Jews as possible in the name of Daesh [IS].”

At the opening of the 29th Jerusalem Film Festival, held, in the capital’s Sultan’s Pool venue. (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

The two are charged with membership in a terror organization and planning terror attacks.

Only a few dozen of Israel’s roughly 1.56 million Arab citizens and permanent residents have joined the ranks of Islamic State since it declared its self-styled “caliphate” in 2014, according to the Shin Bet security service. Most were either killed in action or have since returned to Israel and been arrested.

On July 31, one Arab Israeli, Sayyaf Sharif Daoud, was interviewed on Al Arabiya asking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to work to repatriate him from a Syrian prison.

In April, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri moved to strip another IS fighter of his Israeli citizenship for traveling to Syria to join the group six years earlier. Deri instructed ministry officials to take action in absentia against Abdallah Hajleh at the recommendation of the Shin Bet.

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