Israel’s Shin Bet security agency announced on Tuesday that it had arrested several Arab citizens who were part of a cell plotting to attack Israeli soldiers in the southern Negev region.
Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman said that his agency had thwarted more than 400 “significant” attacks on Israelis during the past year. He praised the Shin Bet’s “quality intelligence, advanced technology, and excellent human capital” for such results.
The Shin Bet said that it had arrested two men last month, Mohammad Masri, 37 of Beer Sheva, and Abdullah Abu Iyash, 26, from Kuseife. Masri, who has previously served a 12-year prison sentence in connection with a pipe bomb explosion which killed a 15-year-old girl, was said to be the cell’s ringleader. He recruited Iyash, who allegedly worked alongside him at a food store in Beer Sheva.
The two planned to attack Israeli soldiers and scouted out possible targets in Arad, Dimona and the entrance to the Nevatim air base. According to the Shin Bet, Masri had become an Islamic Movement member following his release from prison, and was motivated to carry out the attacks as revenge for the Israeli government’s outlawing of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement over its connections to terrorism.
Masri and Iyash were found to have been in possession of a homemade Carl Gustav rifle and detonators for improvised explosive devices. Both are expected to be indicted in the coming days. A third unnamed Arab citizen with links to the Islamic Movement and a history of security offenses was also arrested over his role in the cell.
Three additional arrests were made of Arab citizens who are thought to have sold weapons to Masri and Iyash. They were named as Bakr Abu Takfa, 21, from Shaqib al-Salam; Rami Abu Takfa, 22, from Shaqib al-Salam; and Mohammad Abu Qif, 26, a Bedouin living in the Nevatim area. The Shin Bet said that more arrests were expected as the investigation continues to unfold.
[Photo: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr ]