A Palestinian man who tried to bomb the Jerusalem light rail last month said he plotted the attack in “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount,” police revealed on Tuesday.
Ali Abu Hassan, a Hebron University student whose attempted attack was foiled by an alert security guard, smuggled three pipe bombs covered with poisoned nails and screws through a valley east of Jerusalem. After traveling to the center of the city, Hassan scouted the area to find a suitable target to attack. While he initially intended to detonate his bomb in a crowded restaurant, he changed his plan after he saw a large number of people congregating to board the tram.
Hassan was caught when he raised the suspicion of a nearby security guard, who inspected his knapsack and saw that it contained a bomb. Authorities also found that he was carrying two knives and a cell phone. The guard quickly called the police and sappers were dispatched to detonate the explosives.
A video from the incident shows Hassan lying on the ground surrounded by police.
According to the police, Hassan learned how to construct a bomb that would “cause the most, and most effective, damage” by researching the topic on the internet. Investigators added that he “even carried out a test explosion with a number of bombs in order to check them before entering Israel.”
Hassan came from a village near Hebron and hid in an olive grove while finalizing the preparations for the attack. “Before he entered Israel, he left a final testament, which he left at the university and asked his friends to deliver to his parents,” police said. While in the olive grove, he changed his clothing and shaved his beard in order to be less conspicuous.
Hassan was charged with attempted murder, creating a weapon, and conspiracy.
Hassan’s motive for seeking revenge, the presence of Jews and other non-Muslims on the Temple Mount, has been a frequent theme in the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing incitement against Israel and has been cited as a motive for other recent terrorist attacks.
Palestinian officials often charge that al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located on the Temple Mount, is in danger from Jews. The accusation, which predates the founding of Israel and resulted in the 1929 massacres of Jews in Mandatory Palestine, persists despite routine assurances by the Israeli government and the continued restrictions imposed on non-Muslims at the site. (The Islamic Waqf, which administers the Temple Mount, only allows non-Muslims to use one of the complex’s eleven entrances, and non-Muslims are forbidden from praying, singing, or making any kind of religious display.)
Palestinian attackers have indicated that they were inspired to act after hearing these lies. A Palestinian youth recorded a video before stabbing an Israeli last November, saying, “On behalf of myself and the Palestinian people, I, Bara’a Issa, a son of Jerusalem, set out to defend the al-Aksa mosque and our holy land.” Abbas himself declared in September of last year that Jews “have no right to defile” the al-Aqsa Mosque with their “filthy feet,” and that “each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood.”
[Photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90 ]