Has the Shin Bet foiled attempts to carry out terror attacks on the Temple Mount - or is the affair indicative of the “hysteria” within the security forces regarding their battle against anti-disengagement right-wing activists?
The Shin Bet and Israel Police detained, but later released two groups of far-right activists who authorities say plotted terror attacks on the Temple Mount as part of the anti-disengagement efforts, police revealed Monday.
Security establishment officials say one group planned to use grenades and a missile in the attack, while the other planned to attack the holy site with an “explosive model airplane.”
In all, nine people have been arrested.
The case raises difficult questions regarding the validity of the security forces’ suspicions, as security officials admit the plans to attack the Temple Mount were by no means in their operational phase.
Second, no weapons or ammunition of any kind were found during searches of the nine suspects, who have been released on bail and placed under house arrest. No indictments have been filed so far.
The case strengthens right-wing claims that the Shin Bet and Israel Police are exaggerating their efforts to prevent anti-disengagement activity, so much so that the freedom of expression is being suppressed.
Justice Ministry officials said the district attorney’s office decided there was not enough evidence to prove the suspects committed a crime. It seems the suspects only planned to carry out the attack, but later recanted prior to their arrest, the officials said.
Interior Minister Gideon Ezra told Ynet the affair “is not serious.”
“The Arabs will think people really want to destroy the Temple Mount,” he said. “There are no indictments because there was no crime. If it were serious would they have been released? The whole story is exaggerated.”
'A third intifada'
According to the police, the prime suspect in the case, 21-year-old Bratslev Hassid Avtalion Kadosh, asked his acquaintance Eyal Karmani to purchase a missile and grenades for use in the planned attack.
The suspects toured the Temple Mount area and located a Yeshiva rooftop overlooking the site from which they planned to launch the missile attack.
The two agreed that after the attack they would hurl grenades at police forces arriving at the scene and then commit suicide.
However, when the two were unable to come up with the necessary funds to purchase the missile or the know-how to operate it, they decided to consult with 26 –year-old Elior Chen of Beitar Ilit, who suggested they take a loan from the bank so they would be able to acquire the missile and told them he would put them in touch with former IDF soldiers who would teach them how to operate it.
Kadosh said during his interrogation his goal was to “create a third intifada and a war with Arab countries, a move that would stifle the disengagement plan and facilitate the transfer of Arabs from Israel.”
'Israel is responsible'
During the affair’s second phase, police detained 61-year-old Ilan Hirschfeld of Raanana, who is known as a supporter of far right causes.
Security establishment sources said Hirschfeld admitted he had examined the possibility of attaching cameras to a model airplane and flying it over the Temple Mount to provoke the Arab population.
Police sources said during the investigation the suspect expressed his opposition to the disengagement, and it was revealed that he had consulted with youngsters specializing in flying model airplanes.
Hirschfeld told Ynet allegations of his involvement in the plan to attack the Temple Mount are unfounded.
“I am more than 60 years old; I have heart problems. I never wanted to do anything of the sort, I simply wanted to photograph (the site) and show people the construction being done there,” he said.
Following his investigation Hirschfeld was released on bail and forbidden from entering Jerusalem for 15 days.
Palestinian Legislative Committee representative Hatam el-Qadr told Ynet the international community must act urgently and convene the U.N. Security Council to discuss threats on the Temple Mount.
“The extremists in Israel are supported by a large sector of the Israeli security establishment and army, and the entire world must hold Israel fully responsible for any attack on mosques, which may ignite the entire region,” he said.