Palestinians Behind Tel Aviv Attack Were Inspired by ISIS, Shin Bet Says

Investigation says Palestinian assailants did not receive aid or instruction from Islamic State group; Sarona was randomly chosen as a target on the day of the attack.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Mohammad Ahmad Mahamra, left, and Khaled Mahamra, the two perpetrators of the shooting attack in Tel Aviv's Sarona marketplace on Wednesday night.
Mohammad Ahmad Mahamra, left, and Khaled Mahamra, the two perpetrators of the shooting attack in Tel Aviv's Sarona marketplace on Wednesday night.
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Shin Bet security service announced Monday that the two terrorists behind the shooting last month on Tel Aviv's upscale Sarona Market were inspired by the Islamic State group.

Nonetheless, the Shin Bet's statement noted that the two did not pledge allegiance to the group or receive any aid or instruction from their operatives.

The attack, which left four dead, was led by two cousins Khaled Mohammed Mahamra and Mohammed Ahmad Mahamra from the West Bank town of Yatta.

Credit: Haaretz

An accomplice, Yunis Zayn, was also arrested for allegedly securing the guns for the two cousins and helping to plan the attack.

According to the Shin Bet, Ahmed Mohammed studied in Jordan and was an ISIS supporter. The other attacker, Khaled Mahamra, was traumatized by the demolition of his home when he was in the third grade. On the day of the attack, the two attackers took a photograph with Zayn on the backdrop of the Islamic State flag.

The Mahamras had stopped Zayn from participating in the attack itself by arguing that debts he had accrued would nullify his martyrdom.

According to the indictment against the cousins, they planned the attack "as revenge on Israel in the name of the Islamic State," the statement said. They decided to launch the attack in wake of the arson murder on the Dawabsha family in the Palestinian village of Duma.

After the attack, relatives of the two said they were not officially Hamas members, but were influenced by their message and as well as by family members associated with the group.

Ido Ben Ari, 42, Ilana Naba, 39, Michael Feige, 58, and Mila Mishayev, 32, were killed in the June 8 shooting at the upscale Sarona open-air marketplace, which houses numerous restaurants and shops. Six others were wounded.

The Shin Bet says the original target for attack had been the train, as it arrived at the central train station in Be'er Sheva. But when the terrorists went there earlier this year, they saw heavy security and decided to take a taxi to Tel Aviv.

The Shin Bet says they initially planned to attack a train at the Be'er Sheva train station, but saw heavy security when they visited it earlier this year.

Sarona was randomly chosen as a target on the day of the attack itself, says the Shin Bet. When the pair reached the Hashalom train station, a few hundred meters down the road from Sarona, they asked passersby where to find restaurants and cafes.

The charges state that when the two entered Israel, they wanted to pass as businessmen, so they bought watches, briefcases, shoes and suits. They also bought rat poison, with the idea of stabbing Israelis with blades coated in the toxin. Their weapons were rough and improvised, made in Yatta workshops.

During the investigation, ten other residents of the village were detained on suspicion of being involved in making and selling arms.

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