7 Israeli Arabs Held for Soldier Kidnap Plot

Seven Israeli Arabs, including two minors, were indicted yesterday for planning terror attacks and attempting to kidnap soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.

The defendants, who were arrested before Passover, were charged with aiding the enemy during wartime, holding contacts with a foreign agent, illegal possession of weapons and conspiracy.

The police said they searched the defendants' homes, uncovering explosives that were ready to be activated, computer files and other incriminating evidence.

The cell members, who call themselves the Galilee Freedom Brigades, have been identified as Abdullah Harubeh, 19; Suheib Kabaha, 20; Kutaib Kabaha, 21; Mohammed Kabaha, 20; Ahmed Kabaha, 20; and two 17-year-olds. Harubeh is a resident of the northern village of Maghar while all the other suspects live in Barta'a, near Haifa.

Harubeh is charged with planning to recruit operatives who would abduct soldiers and carry out terrorist attacks by planting explosives. He reportedly told interrogators that he had formed the cell under the guidance of an Islamic Jihad operative from the West Bank known as Abu Kassem.

The cell, which was caught in a joint operation by the police and Shin Bet security service, was apprehended shortly before carrying out its plans, the police said.

"The defendants decided to attack soldiers during the IDF's offensive in Gaza," investigating officer Tamir Arad said.

Harubeh led authorities to the remaining suspects, some of whom were allegedly tasked with hiding weapons and planning an escape route for the terrorists after carrying out the abductions, the police said.

His statement also led to the arrest of the two youths, who had eight makeshift pipe bombs.

"The explosives seized in the defendants' possession could have caused great damage. Since the cell was prepared for action we decided not to wait but to act before Passover eve," said a local commander, Avi Algarisi.

While preparing for the attacks the defendants simulated a soldier's abduction and bomb planting, the police said.

"One of the defendants played soldier while the others pulled him into a car, simulated strangling him and drove him to a hiding place," Algarisi said.

An e-mail sent to Haaretz said that "we proudly announce that these brothers are sons of the Galilee Freedom Brigades and their various branches."

The e-mail said the organization's people were preparing more attacks in Israel. "You will have no peace or safety because our cells in 1948's Palestine are preparing more heroic acts. These will not stop until your defeated entity is wiped out," the message said.

The organization has claimed responsibility for several suicide attacks in Israel, but the Shin Bet has been unable to determine the group's members and modus operandi.

A group by that name was captured in 2004 and charged with the murder of soldier Oleg Shaichat. Since then, as far as the Shin Bet knows, the organization - if it exists - has reduced its activities while claiming responsibility for terror attacks carried out by lone assailants.

Harubeh's family yesterday rejected the charges against him. "It's all lies, my son never had anything to do with such things; quite the opposite, he was thinking of joining the police," said Yonas Harubeh in Haifa District Court after his son's indictment. "I think someone framed him.

"Many in our family and I myself served in the IDF and we're proud of it. Anyone who has fought for this country cannot act against it," he said.

Abdullah Harubeh had finished high school and was about to study chemistry at university, his father said.