Brother of Senior Hamas Member Charged With Planning Attacks in Ukraine, Israel

Sami Habib, who lived in Ukraine between 2010 and 2016, drew up three different plans for terrorist attacks against Israelis in Ukraine and Israel.

Illustration: A man in handcuffs.
Eyal Varshavsky

A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who has lived in Ukraine in recent years was charged with criminal conspiracy, illegal association, spying and other charges in the Be'er Sheva District Court on Thursday.

According to the indictment, Sami Hamad Habib, 30, managed a number of restaurants in Ukraine, where he lived from October 2010. Between 2014 and 2016, he drew up three different plans for terrorist attacks against Israelis in Ukraine and Israel.

His first plan was to abduct a senior Israel Defense Forces officer after luring him from Taba into the Gaza Strip using a Ukrainian female decoy. The charge sheet did not detail any steps taken by Habib to implement the plan.

The second plan was to open fire on a tour bus of Israelis in Odessa, a large city in southern Ukraine. However, after spending time at the airport gathering information about the movements of Israelis visiting Ukraine, he understood that Odessa was not a popular destination among Israeli tourists.

The third plan was to supply weapons to Islamic State supporters in Israel's Arab community for suicide attacks within Israel. He planned to smuggle the weapons from Sinai to the attackers in Israel by means of a drone. While planning the attack he allegedly investigated drones in a store in the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk.

According to the indictment, Habib's brother Salam is a senior Hamas operative who used the family house in the Gaza City suburb of Sajiya as a reconnaissance center and refuge for Hamas fighters during the Cast Lead operation in 2008.

Dozens of or armed activists allegedly spent time in the house, which they used a a jump-off point for attacks on IDF soldiers.

The indictment details Sami's role during the fighting, which allegedly included providing food and drink to the fighters in the house and assisting his brother in running a telephone cable from the house to a nearby hospital, in order to maintain contact with Hamas fighters at the hospital.

In July-August 2010, according to the indictment, Sami Habib noticed an unusual number of Hamas activists in the storeroom at the back of the house. His brother, who he helped carry concrete slabs, revealed to him that he was building a tunnel running from the storeroom to an orchard about 550 meters away. Three weeks later, Sami himself entered the tunnel

Sami Habib was arrested on January 31while trying to cross into Israel from Jordan via the Allenby crossing. He was carrying a Civil Administration permit that the family obtained by fraudulently claiming that his mother was ill.