Three Israeli Arabs Suspected of Digging Tunnel to Smuggle Arms From West Bank

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Israel's security barrier runs along the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. October 26, 2015.
Israel's security barrier, here in East Jerusalem. Credit: Reuters

The Shin Bet has arrested three Israeli Arabs from the city of Taibeh suspected of plotting to smuggle weapons from the West Bank into Israel by tunnel, the security service said Thursday.

An indictment after the arrest last month has been filed at the Lod District Court. The Shin Bet said the cell also tried to set the town’s soccer stadium on fire in order to cancel a concert by a local singer.

The cell, suspected of an affiliation with the Islamic State, intended to hide the weapons 15 meters (49 feet) beneath the house of one of the group’s members, the Shin Bet said. It said the militants began digging through a cave in an attempt to cross the separation barrier underground from the West Bank city of Tul Karm into Taibeh.

According to the security service, the tunnel was found after members of the cell were questioned. They had only dug a few meters and had not crossed the separation barrier.

Referring to the concert, the Shin Bet said the cell aimed to prevent “an activity they deemed to be immoral and violating their religion and the principles of the Islamic State.”

One of the men arrested, 20-year-old Amir Jabara, was once arrested by Turkish security forces for trying to cross the border and join Islamic State forces in Syria. One of the men arrested said he aimed to join the Islamic State in Syria and had built a motorized windsurfing apparatus to get him there.

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