Palestinian Student Charged in Jerusalem Bombing Attempt

According to the indictment, Ali Abu Hassan prepared pipe bombs with the help of YouTube videos, entered Israel through a break in the fence and planned to attack a crowded place.

Jaffa Street closed off in Jerusalem, after a Palestinian was caught carrying explosives at a light rail station, July 17, 2016.
Emil Salman

A 21-year-old Palestinian from the town of Beir Ula, north of Hebron in the West Bank, was indicted in the Jerusalem District Court on Friday for attempted murder, manufacturing weapons, carrying weapons, possessing a knife and entering Israel illegally.

Ali Abu Hassan, a civil engineering student at Hebron University, was arrested at a light rail station in Jerusalem about three weeks ago with pipe bombs in his bag.

According to the indictment, Abu Hassan was influenced to carry out a terror attack by the wave of terror during the month of Ramadan and reports of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount. On July 14, he put together four pipe bombs with the help of instructional videos he watched on YouTube. On the same day, he wrote on Facebook: “No one is doing anything against the Jews’ entry to Al Aqsa and therefore they will do it often. If you do not defend the Al Aqsa Mosque, who will?”

Two days later, Abu Hassan set out with a bag in which carried the pipe bombs and two knives, along with duct tape, iron wire, instant glue, a hat, sunglasses, an electric razor, cigarette lighters and a sack of clothing. He entered Israel through a break in the fence and hunkered down in a wooded area near the Zur Baher neighborhood in Jerusalem. There, he shaved his beard, leaving a goatee, and put on a shirt with English writing to look like a Jew.

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

On the morning of Sunday, July 17, Abu Hassan boarded a bus in the Armon Hantziv neighborhood. According to the indictment, he noticed that there were many children on the bus and decided to get off at a crowded place in order to carry out the attack.

He got off the bus on King George Street and wandered around the nearby streets. He thought of attacking a restaurant but found that it was empty. Eventually, he arrived at the Jaffa Central light rail station at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road. According to the indictment, he weighed up the options of whether to board a train and then ignite the bombs or throw them into a train when the doors opened.

At that point, Abu Hassan aroused the suspicions of light rail security guard Fadi Sheikh, who approached him, questioned him and found the explosive devices during a search of his bag.