Shin Bet Nabbed Five Members of Hamas-linked Terror Cell in Jerusalem

The five-strong cell, whose members are all residents of the Sur Baher village in East Jerusalem, has allegedly been active since Operation Cast Lead in late 2008.

The Shin Bet security service said yesterday that a Hamas cell believed to have planned terror attacks was arrested in Jerusalem last month, during a joint operation with Israel Police. Details of the arrests had previously been kept under a gag order.

The five-strong cell, whose members are all residents of the Sur Baher village in East Jerusalem, has allegedly been active since Operation Cast Lead in late 2008.

One of the cell members was arrested in February, prompting another member to attempt to dispose of an explosive device made for a planned bombing. That bomb exploded in the hand of a municipal garbage collector, maiming him.

According to the Shin Bet, the cell was planning a shooting attack similar to one in March 2008 at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, in which eight yeshiva students were murdered by a Palestinian terrorist.

The group is believed to have acquired weapons with the assistance of Hamas. The Shin Bet says that a known Hamas operative in Gaza transferred 10,000 Jordanian dinar to cell member Jihad Atun via money changers in Jordan and Jerusalem, and promised another 20,000 dinar at a later date.

The cell members planned to use the funds to purchase an M-16 assault rifle and two pistols. Atun was detained before he could make the purchase, and the rest of the cell was arrested later on.

According to the Shin Bet, Mahmoud Dawiyat admitted to preparing a pipe bomb which he said was to be used in an attack on a bus stop in Gilo.

But Dawiyat decided to discard the explosive device on Hebron Road in the capital. The trash bag containing the device was discovered in early March by two municipal workers who picked the bag up from a traffic island on the road. The bomb went off, injuring one worker, who lost part of his hand.

A fourth member of the cell has been named as Munir Marwat Atun, brother of Jihad Atun and Mahmoud Atun, who is serving a life sentence for murdering three Israelis, including a policeman. The fifth member has been named as Ahmed Namir, who has already served jail time in 2006-2007 for Hamas-related activities.