Israeli Man Charged in Planned Hamas Bombing Days After UAE Deal

Mahmoud Ben Khamis Makdad, from southern Israel and with family in Gaza, had been recruited by the organization to bomb bus stop

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File photo: Israeli soldiers wait at a bus station in Tel Aviv, September 4, 2016.
File photo: Israeli soldiers wait at a bus station in Tel Aviv, September 4, 2016.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Southern district prosecutors issued an indictment Monday against a resident of southern Israel for plotting a bombing against soldiers at a bus stop by orders he received from Hamas.

Mahmoud Ben Khamis MakdadCredit:

The suspect, Mahmoud Ben Khamis Makdad, 30, from the Bedouin town of Segev Shalom in the Negev, was arrested last month by Shin Bet and police forces the day before the attack was to take place.

Makdad had bullets and the explosive charge, which was to be detonated via remote control, in his possession when he was taken into custody.

The bomb found in the suspect's possessionCredit:

The planned attack would have targeted a bus stop in central Israel's Bilu junction. The date of the attack, August 16, was just a few days after Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced that they would be normalizing relations, and came amid Hamas' attempts to renew a flow of Qatari aid money to Gaza.

Makdad, a repairman by profession, is an Israeli citizen. His wife and children live in the Gazan city of Rafah. During his questioning, security forces learned that he had been recruited by Hamas a year and a half ago, after a member of the organization, dubbed Abu Abdallah, paid a visit to the family's home in Gaza.

Makdad agreed to carry out a number of tasks for Hamas under Abu Abdallah's direction, including documenting Iron Dome anti-missile defense system batteries, military bases and bus stops throughout southern Israel. Interrogators also learned that while visiting his family in Gaza, Makdad was trained to prepare various types of explosives.

Bullets found in the suspect's possessionCredit:

According to the indictment, the day before the planned attack, Makdad regretted his involvement and decided not to carry out the bombing. He notified Abu Abdallah, who instructed him to destroy the equipment used to build the bomb. Makdad set the equipment on fire in his yard. The charges also say he had received thousands of shekels on a number of occasions from Abu Abdallah for helping Hamas.

The prosecution also indicted the suspect's brother, Ahmad Ben Khamis Makdad, on Monday, for having prior knowledge of the plot and not attempting to stop it. He is also accused of helping his brother obtain information for Hamas.

Merchants from a few Bedouin towns in the Negev were also indicted for having sold weapons to Makdad. According to the indictment, the merchants did not know that the weapons they sold were intended to be used for an attack, as Makdad told them that he is interested in reselling the weapons for profit.

A senior Shin Bet source said that this case “is further testimony to the efforts that Hamas’s military wing in Gaza has invested in establishing a terrorist infrastructure in Israel."

He added that it is part of the "methodical and extensive" Hamas activities in Israel and the West Bank. "It shows the strategy of Hamas leaders continuing to seek to upset stability in the region, despite the parallel efforts being made to restore order at the same time.”

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