Israel indicted a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday for planning to fire a missile at an Israel Navy vessel and kidnap soldiers on board.
The Shin Bet security service also announced that it had arrested 10 Gazans, including the man charged on Wednesday, in connection to the plot last month.
The suspects allegedly planned to abduct Israeli soldiers to use as bargaining chips after firing a Russian-made Kornet anti-tank guided missile to damage their vessel.
The man changed on Wednesday, allegedly group's ringleader, was named as Amin Juma'a, a 23-year-old purported member of the Islamic Jihad.
The Shin Bet said the 10 were arrested in boats off the Gaza coast on March 12, after they went beyond the permitted fishing zone. Two others were indicted on other security charges while seven were released.
The security service said it believed the suspects' plan was to use one boat as a decoy to lure the Israeli vessel while using a second boat to attack the ship with the missile. A third boat would approach the damaged ship in order to abduct the soldiers on board.
Intelligence services believe the plot reflects Gazan terrorist organizations' desire to shift their attention to sea in light of Israel's successes against the threat of underground tunnels. The military has deployed a number of methods to counteract this growing threat, as well as preparing for the possibility that terrorist groups may target Israel's offshore gas fields.
The indictment against Juma'a is based on his confession and witness accounts, according to a request to extend Juma's detention until the end of legal proceedings.
The Gaza resident is accused of being in contact with Islamic Jihad since 2016 and becoming a member last August. After the deaths of operatives in a tunnel collapse, he was allegedly offered $5,000 to participate in an attack on Israel's navy. He purportedly used a cellphone to record Israeli navy vessels, documenting their locations and weaponry.
Juma'a is also suspected of smuggling explosives and arms from Egypt into the Gaza Strip on three occasions over the past decade.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the alleged attack proved "the true intentions of the terrorist organizations in Gaza, who are trying to disguise their murderous plans in organizing provocations at the security fence, whose entire purpose is to provide cover for terrorists to conduct terror attacks against Israel."
Netanyahu and his allies have dismissed criticism of the army's handling of mass protests on the Gaza side of the border fence. The deaths of Palestinian protesters has evoked criticism from Israeli officials, the Palestinian Authority and others worldwide. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Saturday for the launching of a transparent investigation into the deaths.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday after the Shin Bet announcement: "The challenges at the Gaza border are diverse and complex. The Israeli people have someone to rely on. I hope that this time, our friends on the left will not demand an investigative committee."
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