Palestinian Plotted Massive Bombing on Jerusalem Light Rail

In revenge for Israeli visits to Temple Mount, 21-year-old engineering student planned attack and was arrested two weeks ago with three pipe bombs filled with screws dipped in rat poison.

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Police in in Jerusalem after a Palestinian was caught carrying explosives.
Police in in Jerusalem after a Palestinian was caught carrying explosives.Credit: Emil Salman
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

A Palestinian arrested two weeks ago in Jerusalem had built three pipe bombs and was planning to set them off on the Light Rail, prosecutors say.

Ali Abu Hassan, 21, a civil engineering student from Beit Ula, a town near Hebron, was stopped by a security guard due to suspicious behavior. The bombs and two knives were found on his person. 

State prosecutors on Monday moved to extend Abu Hassan's detention until an indictment is submitted. He is expected to be charged with attempted murder, manufacturing weapons and conspiring to commit a crime. 

Bombs with poison-laced screws found on Ali Abu Hassan, 21, a civil engineering student from Beit Ula, near Hebron, who was arrested for planning Jerusalem light rail attack. Credit: Israel Police

In a joint statement, the Jerusalem police and the Shin Bet security service said that Abu Hassan confessed to planning the attack in revenge for the visits of Israelis and tourists to Temple Mount. 

The arrest of a Palestinian man suspected of carrying explosive devices, near a light rail station in Jerusalem, July 17, 2016.

The investigation found that Abu Hassan entered Israel through a valley on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He arrived at an olive grove in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, where he changed his clothes and trimmed his beard in order to be able to blend in. He attended a prayer at a nearby mosque and then took a bus to the center of Jerusalem, where he began scouting a location for the attack. Ultimately, he decided on a packed train.

At this point Abu Hassan was noticed by the guard, who searched his bag along with a coworker. Upon finding the bombs, they detained him, evacuated the area and alerted the police. 

Investigators found that Abu Hassan worked alone and was not assisted by a terrorist organization. He learned how to build bombs from the internet and even test-detonated some of the devices. He packed the bombs with screws and nails dipped in rat poison in order to maximize the damage.

He had left behind a will and asked a friend to pass it along to his parents. 

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