Israeli Arab and East Jerusalem Palestinian Charged With Aiding Hamas to Plan Attacks

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Hazem Sandouka and Fahdi Abu Kian.
Hazem Sandouka and Fahdi Abu Kian.Credit: Shin Bet

An Israeli Arab man and a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem were charged Friday at the Jerusalem District Court for their alleged involvement with a Hamas cell in the West Bank, which planned to carry out various terror attacks, including kidnappings and bombings within Israel. 

Hazam Sandooka, 22, from East Jerusalem, and Fahdi Abu Kia'an, 19, from Hura in southern Israel, both of them students at Abu Dis University in the West Bank, were charged with conspiring to aid an enemy during wartime and with contacting a foreign agent.

They are considered to be among the main suspects in the activites of the cell, which was uncovered last month in an operation which brought about the arrests of 25 people, most of them from Abu Dis.

According to the indictment, the two aided Ahmed Azzam, a 24-year-old from Qalqilia and a fellow student, who was tapped by Hamas to set up the cell. According to the Shin Bet, Azzam recruited the two for their ability to roam freely within Israel. 

Azzam, who was also charged, allegedly purchased an apartment in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, which was used as an explosives lab. According to the indictment, Azzam was aided by Sandooka, who also suggested they plant a bomb under the podium in the Jerusalem Payis Arena, a sports stadium, in the event the prime minister would be speaking there.

Azzam also allegedly asked Sandooka to locate safehouses for terrorists and to buy a car to be used to carry out attacks. On several occasions, Sandooka is suspected of having purchased different chemical compounds weighing tens of kilograms and moving them into Azzam's apartment in Abu Dis. Azzam was planning to make two liters of explosives in December, move them in Sandouka's car to Jerusalem, and use them in a terror attack. Sandouka was also accused of trying to recruit another member for the cell.

Abu Kia'an was accused of agreeing to carry out an attack, and to smuggle weapons from the West Bank into Israel.  

The Shin Bet said that tests of the equipment found in Azzam's apartment showed that the lab was capable of preparing various kinds of explosives in significant amounts. The materials were purchased in Israel and in Ramallah. The shop in Ramallah was located, and equipment and materials were confiscated. 

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