E. Jerusalem Terror Cell Seized Over Cafe Hillel Bomb

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

Security forces have arrested four Israeli citizens from East Jerusalem and a Palestinian from the vicinity of Ramallah on suspicion that they were involved in last September's bombing of Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem, in which seven people were killed and 45 were wounded, the Shin Bet security service announced Sunday.

The suspects, who were arrested in October, have admitted their involvement in the bombing, Israel Radio reported.

Security forces suspect the terror cell is affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The cell members allegedly fitted a terrorist with an explosives belt on September 9, 2003, and brought him to Emek Refaim Street in Jerusalem, a popular restaurant-filled area where Cafe Hillel is located.

The explosive belt was delivered to East Jerusalem in a crate of grapes, the suspects told police.

The cell members - men between 25 and 43 from the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Issawiya, Shuafat and Anata - allegedly collected information about terror targets in Jerusalem and accumulated weapons for a year and a half prior to the bombing.

Security forces discovered the existence of the East Jerusalem terror cell while questioning Hamas activists arrested three months ago. The cell was allegedly headed by Ahmed Abid, a 38-year-old Issawiya resident.

Fifty-one out of 228,000 East Jerusalem residents have been arrested since the beginning of 2004 over involvement in terror activity, an increase over previous years, security forces said.

But Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco cautioned against assuming that most Arab residents of Jerusalem are involved in terror activity.

"The involvement of residents of East Jerusalem is known to us and has been rising in the last few years," said Franco. "But I want to emphasize here again that the numbers are still low; the majority of the East Jerusalem population leads a normal and normative life."

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