Israeli authorities today announced that they have foiled a Hamas terror plot that would have targeted a Jerusalem mall around the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
According to the Shin Bet, a number of Palestinians were arrested several weeks ago in connection with the terror plot. Two of those arrested, Ahmad Rishak and Ismail Abu Mfalfal, lived in East Jerusalem and worked as janitors at the upscale Mamilla Mall, which was the intended target.
A third arrested Palestinian, Hamdi Hasneen Hamdi Romana (pictured above), was said to be a Hamas terrorist based in Ramallah who had an explosives lab in his home as well as instructions on how to build bombs. Romana, whose father was also said to be a Hamas operative, was also responsible for recruiting the two janitors.
Romana admitted during questioning that he had been in contact with three other Palestinians in the Ramallah area for bomb-making help. The three have since been arrested and pled guilty to the charges against them.
The Shin Bet also said that the terrorists admitted to planning other attacks, including trying to launch rockets at Israeli communities near Ramallah.
The Times of Israel noted that Rishak and Mfalfal possessed Israeli identification cards. Thus, they had “access to Jerusalem without going through the security check that most West Bank Palestinians must undergo.”
The use of Palestinians with Israeli identification cards is fairly common for Palestinian terror groups. For example, during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, a terror cell tied to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives used a Palestinian with an Israeli identification card to blow up a bomb on a public bus in Tel Aviv.
Over the past year, Hamas terror activities, in particular abduction attempts, have been on the rise in the West Bank. In March, the Shin Bet charged that Hamas’ Interior Minister Fathi Hammad has been at the forefront of the terror group’s efforts to carry out terror attacks in the West Bank, including kidnappings, suicide bombings, and rocket attacks.
For more on Hamas’ recent terror plots, see Threat Matrix reports, Israel thwarts Hamas terror plots involving Qatar-based terrorist, More Palestinian kidnapping plots thwarted by Israel, Israel exposes new Hamas kidnapping cell near Ramallah, Attempts to abduct Israeli soldiers in West Bank on the rise, Hamas terror cell in Hebron exposed, and Hamas terrorist in Qatar helps Hebron terror cell plan kidnappings.