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Authorities: Hamas Terror Cell Plotted to Kill Netanyahu

Two Arab-Israeli members of a large Hamas terror cell who were arrested last month have been indicted for plotting to kill Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Times of Israel reported Friday.

According to the indictment, Hazem Ziad Amran Sandouqa, a 22-year-old resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, and Fahdi Daoud Muhammad Abu Qaian, a 19-year-old Bedouin Israeli from the Negev, planned, along with Hamas activist Ahmad Jamal Mousa Azzam, 24, to plant explosives in the Jerusalem Payis Arena at a time when Netanyahu would be scheduled to speak at the site…

The indictment said the three planned to place the device beneath the stage at the multi-purpose sports arena in Malha on a future occasion at which Netanyahu was to appear, but never set a final date for the operation.

Authorities say Azzam rented an apartment in the Abu Dis neighborhood of Jerusalem and purchased explosive materials by himself and with the help of Sandouqa.

Most of the operatives in the Hamas cell were students at al-Quds University. According to Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security organization, the cell was controlled by Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.

The indictment added that Hamas operatives had recruited Azzam to create a terror cell and taught him to build explosive belts and vests, as well as improvised explosive devices. Abu Qaian, identified as a supporter of ISIS, was also accused of smuggling weapons into Israel and the West Bank with the goal of targeting civilians. Abu Qaian told investigators that he had agreed to carry out a suicide attack by either wearing an explosive vest or driving a car filled with explosives.

Last month, reports surfaced that Hamas planned to escalate the current terror campaign against Israel with suicide bombings. Days earlier, The Jerusalem Post reported that some members of Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, were also considering a return to suicide bombings.

The presence of an ISIS supporter in a terror cell affiliated with Hamas, which is backed by Iran, comes amid reports that Tehran is indirectly sponsoring ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula. In a recent analysis for The Tower Magazine, Arik Agassi exposed the complex ties that bind the two terror groups to Iran.

The Iran-Hamas-ISIS axis is part of Iran’s strategy of using proxy forces against U.S. allies like Egypt and Israel as part of a larger strategy to achieve hegemony over the Middle East. This has resulted in one of the region’s best kept secrets: An intensive cooperation mechanism between Iran, Hamas, and ISIS, based on money, weapons, military equipment, and training.

Iran’s foreign policy goal of hegemony over the Middle East is based on its primary ideological pillar – exporting the Islamic Revolution to other countries using terrorism and political subversion. In pursuing its ambitions, Iran has often put aside its religious differences with radical Sunni groups like ISIS and Hamas. The Islamic Republic is more than willing to cooperate with these groups as long as doing so helps promote its larger interests.

“By directly supporting Hamas in Gaza and indirectly supporting ISIS in the Sinai, Iran is able to gain foothold against Israel and Egypt to destabilize them, undermine America’s regional influence, create another Iranian power base in a Sunni-dominated region, and project its power and influence in its pursuit of regional hegemony,” Major (res.) Dan Feferman, a former senior IDF intelligence officer and Iran specialist, told the Tower. When asked why Iran would indirectly fund a serious rival such as ISIS, Feferman said that Lebanon, Iraq, and especially Syria are more important to Iran than the Sinai, as Iran wants to preserve its influence in states affected by the Syrian civil war – so Iran fights ISIS in those counties. In places where Iran does not have a strong influence, such as Egypt, it feels comfortable supporting ISIS, albeit indirectly.

[Photo: Courtesy Shin Bet]