Two Israeli Bedouin Charged With Plotting to Attack Soldiers

Mohammed Masri and Abdullah Abu Ayish had allegedly intended attacking one of Israel's largest airbases.

Suspects from southern Israel charged in Be'er Sheva court on December 29, 2016 with plot to attack IDF soldiers.
Ilan Assayag

Two Israeli Bedouin from the south of the country were indicted in a Be’er Sheva court on Thursday for planning to carry out a terror attack on Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

Be'er Sheva resident Mohammed Masri, 37, and Abdullah Abu Ayish, 26, of the Bedouin town of Kseifa, allegedly planned to target the Israel Air Force base at Nevatim or other sites in Dimona and Arad.

They are also accused of having spray-painted graffiti in the Bedouin Negev town of Rahat in praise of the Islamic movement.

Both have been under arrest for about a month. The prosecutor asked the court to extend their remand until the end of the proceedings against them.

But because the application was made late, the judge ordered the two to be freed of handcuffs while in the court. The judge subsequently ordered them held in detention until an unspecified later date.

Charges have yet to be laid against other suspects in the crime who are currently in detention.

Both Masri and Abu Ayish worked at the King Store food retail chain branch in Be’er Sheva, where Masri was assistant store manager. He was also allegedly a member of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, which was outlawed in Israel in November last year.

Ten days after the movement was outlawed, the two allegedly spray painted the slogan. “The Islamic Movement is strong and will remain” on public buildings in Rahat and Kseifa.

Afterwards, according to the charge sheet, Masri decided to attack IDF soldiers at a bus stop or in a base. He is alleged to have asked Abu Ayish to determine an appropriate location.

Abu Ayish allegedly agreed to do so and also agreed to participate in the operation. They also scouted out sites together in Dimona and Arad. Their intention was to flee to an area with a Bedouin population in the northern Negev after the attack.

The two are charged with assisting the enemy and Masri is also charged with gun crimes. According to the prosecution, Masri has previous convictions for assisting the enemy, arson and gun crimes.

Abu Ayish has a previous sentence for causing death through negligence.

Security officials said that much of the evidence was based on the confessions of the two, who had also reenacted their part in the alleged plot.

Masri’s solicitor said after the court session that the evidence against the two was “very thin and in no way comparable to the statement the police and Shin Bet [security service] made only two days ago.”

The indictment, he added, describes an idea that the two had a year ago and dropped.

“The defendants deny the indictment and we will prove that there is nothing in it,” he said.