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Hamas Holiday Terror Attack Planned For Jerusalem Thwarted by IDF

Israel Security Agency has reported that a Hamas cell from Ramallah planned a terror attack that was to take place in Jerusalem over the Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur holidays in September. The attack was thwarted by a Givati Brigade soldiers. The Hamas cell had also been producing rockets.

A joint effort between the Israel Police, Border Police, IDF and the ISA resulted in the arrest last month of several members of Hamas’ military infrastructure. The terrorists were from the Jerusalem and Ramallah branches of Hamas’ military wing. They were apprehended during advanced stages of planning a bomb attack in Jerusalem, which they intended to carry out during the Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Holidays.

The leader of the group was Hamdi Hasneen Hamdi Romana, born in 1991, whose father, Hasneen Romana, was one of the leaders of Hamas’ military wing in Ramallah.

During the investigation, the ISA uncovered a weapons laboratory at the home of Romana, with chemicals used to make explosives, and educational materials with instructions on explosives production. The ISA said that during their search they were in contact with a laboratory worker and two residents of Ramallah who provided him with chemicals in order to produce explosives. The three were detained for questioning and pleaded guilty to the charges.
The investigation also found that the terrorist cell had been planning other attacks, including: An attempt to harm IDF soldiers in Ramallah through a booby-trapped house; intention to produce rockets and launch them at Israeli communities near Ramallah; and an attempt to procure guns to fire at IDF soldiers at the Himza checkpoint in North-East Jerusalem.

The ISA emphasized that the newly-exposed terrorist cell demonstrates the high motivation of terrorists in the West Bank, lead by Hamas, to carry out attacks in Israel.

Increase in terrorism
Members of the terrorist cell were arrested by soldiers of the Givati ​​Brigade. “The infrastructure was very extensive and it took about two weeks to catch all of the members”, said the Tzabar battalion commander, Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi. “We carried out the raid of the house of the head of the cell in the heart of Ramallah and arrested two members, and through them we found the other members. The material we found there was advanced.”

During the raid, residents of the neighborhood rioted in order to prevent the arrest. “We faced resistance even within the house,” said Lt. Col. Hajbi. “But the soldiers came prepared, and ready. We arrived with a reserve force and an extraction force, and we entered under maximum security. We isolated the operating space, and prevented public disturbances. The extraction had to be done swiftly.”

The Tzabar Battalion began operating in the Ramallah area in recent months. According to Lt. Col. Hajbi, last month saw a significant increase in terrorism in the area. “Arrests and raids were carried out every night to reduce the chance of terrorist attacks,” he added. “About a week and a half ago we carried out a similar raid. The battalion’s spirits are high and we will continue to work hard during the upcoming nights.”
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WJC ANALYSIS - The choice between two evils: the PLO and UNESCO and the crisis in Gaza

While Gaza presents Israel with a military and security challenge, the government in Ramallah is challenging Israel's very legitimacy and identity

 


By Pinhas Inbari
WJC, Last week Israel was twice tested by the Palestinian leadership. On the one hand, its territory was bombarded by missiles out of Gaza, while on the other, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was admitted to UNESCO as a permanent member of the organization. These events illustrate the challenges Israel is facing with regard to Hamas and the Fatah, Gaza and Ramallah, and the decisions and choices it must make.
While Gaza presents Israel with a military and security challenge, the government in Ramallah is challenging Israel's very legitimacy and identity. Immediately after the vote in UNESCO, the PLO announced its plans to question Israel's connection to the holy land in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and on the entirety of Israel’s territory. It also announced its plans to pursue legal action against Israel for the "identity-stealing" of the Arab character of Palestine, Judaizing the legacy of Jerusalem and antiquities theft. The PLO will task UNESCO with the mission of reconstructing the genuine Arab character of the land, allegedly distorted by Israel.
It has been suggested that Israel's government actually prefers dealing with Hamas instead of the Fatah, as it does not essentially confront the Hamas government in Gaza, but its rival – the Islamic Jihad. Moreover, Hamas – through Egypt – is cooperating with Israel by calming down the tensions and stopping the missiles attacks on Israel, in contrast to Ramallah, who is directly confronting Israel in UNESCO and other international bodies.
Surprisingly, Israel's neighbor Jordan also prefers Hamas over the government in Ramallah. It was reported that the new prime minister of Jordan, Awn al-Khassawneh, declared that closing down Hamas’ headquarters in Amman in 1999 was a mistake. It was even reported that a visit by Khaled Mash'al in the royal palace would be welcomed by king Abdallah in the near future.
The PLO's success with UNESCO is thus clouded by Hamas communication with Israel via Egypt and the looming possibility of the return to their headquarters in Amman. Jordan is troubled by the PLO joining UNESCO because until now Jordan represented Jerusalem at the organization. The Palestinians are now asking it to step aside and relinquish custody of the al-Aqsa mosque. This matter is not taken lightly in Amman, which may be more amenable to improving relations with Hamas as a way to get back at the PLO.
On his part, PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas still plans to retire. Abbas has tried to arrange a meeting with Hamas' Khaleed Mashal to coordinate early elections that will end his tenure in office, but so far to no avail. For Hamas, elections do not constitute a priority. Nor does the organization trust Fatah to run a fair election in the West Bank, claiming that the Palestinian Legislative Council could go another ten years without an election, as it has under Fatah. In addition, Hamas is demanding that Fayyad's government be ended and the US-trained Dayton forces be dispersed.
However, in contrast to the PLO, Hamas is against the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority because it provides legitimacy and power to an organization that would otherwise be considered as a mere militia.
Hamas is faced with its own challenges in Gaza. While trying to improve its status as a regional player, it is besieged by internal trouble in the form of Iran-supported Islamic Jihad, unhappy about the Schalit deal. It is telling that the commander of the Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, Ahmad Ja'bari, has come out of hiding and now moves about freely in Gaza, unafraid of being targeted by Israel. The Palestine Resistance Committees and Fatah believe this new development is a direct consequence of the Schalit deal, which has given Hamas further opportunities to steer away from the 'resistance' policy in Gaza.
The choice between running a government or pursuing a policy of resistance is the real test Hamas is facing — not only with regard to Israel, but also in its relations with Jordan and Egypt. Time will tell if Hamas is as able at running a government as it is at running the 'resistance'.

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