Palestinian security forces arrested a West Bank National Guard policeman planning a suicide bombing inside Israel last week, a Palestinian security source told Ynet on Monday several short hours after the
PA announced it had thwarted a terror attack.
The source said that after being taken into custody, the man was identified as belonging to Hamas.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki declined to elaborate on the identity of the would-be suicide bomber after making the announcement earlier in the day, but confirmed that a videotape of the bomber detailing his intentions to blow up an Israeli target was confiscated in the raid.
The PA touted the arrest as a testament to their commitment to combat terrorism and ability to prevent attacks against Israel.
The Israeli military said it had no knowledge of the case.
The Palestinian security official said that the successful operation proves Israel no longer has an excuse to continue restriction Palestinian movement in the West Bank. "The Israelis are well aware of how much intelligence we share with one another and how much we put into our efforts to thwart attacks," said the source.
Hamas charges government with fabricating charges
The PA's announcement came a week before US President George W. Bush visits the region to promote peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians are eager to prove they are cracking down on militants, which is a central demand of the negotiations.
''We confiscated huge amounts of mercury in Nablus,'' Malki told reporters. ''This mercury is used for explosives and especially in preparing detonators,'' he said.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum declined to comment on whether its members were arrested, but said: "We support any act of resistance against the Israeli occupation but we will not be surprised if the government ... fabricates charges to pursue their arrest campaign against Hamas and other factions of resistance."
President Mahmoud Abbas' government has deployed hundreds of security officers in West Bank towns in recent weeks as part of a Western-backed drive to crack down on gunmen and gangsters.
Hamas has carried out dozens of suicide bombings that killed hundreds of Israelis, though the militant Islamic group hasn't successfully carried out a bombing in Israel in the past two years.