An Islamic Jihad cell plotting to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists and university lecturers was exposed in a joint IDF, Shin Bet and police operation. The arrest was cleared for publication on Thursday evening.
The cell was comprised of three Palestinians and two Israeli Arabs from Shfaram. The group also planned to carry out a shooting attack against the IDF checkpoint near Beit Zeit, in the Ramallah area, and go after those suspected of collaborating with Israel.
The planning of the assassinations was still in the early stages.
The two Israeli Arab members worked on the fundraising front, trying to secure money for the purchase of weapons. The two attempted to contact the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Syria to this end. The cell did have some arms in its possession and had trained extensively ahead of its plan to carry out the Beit Zeit shooting attack.
The names of those arrested are:
1. Anis Saffouri – a 20-year-old resident of Shfaram, a communications student at the Bir Zeit University in Ramallah.
2. Hussam Khalil – a 19-year-old resident of Shfaram, an electrical engineering student in Jordan.
3. Mahmoud Bader – a 19-year-old resident of Beit Lakiyah, an Islamic Jihad activist at the Bir Zeit University.
4. Ibrahim Tamliya – a 25-year-old resident of Ramallah, considered a prominent Islamic Jihad activist
5. Ibrahim Hamed – a 26-year-old resident of the Kalandiya refugee camp, an Islamic Jihad activist
Anis Saffouri's father, Jamil Saffouri, is one of the suspects implicated in the lynching of Jewish terrorist Edan Nathan-Zada in Shfaram.
Hussam Khalil is the son of a prominent Balad operative, and Shfaram officials were surprised to hear his name connected to the fundamentalist Islamic Jihad. Both Balad and 'Sons of the Villages' are secular movements.
Connections to 'Al-Manar' reporters
According to the details revealed in the investigation, Anis Saffouri relocated to Ramallah in 2006 to study in Birzeit. Saffouri, already a member of the Sons of the Village movement, developed ties to activists for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as personal and professional ties to reporters linked to the Hizbullah-affiliated 'Al-Manar' network.
Saffouri later became active for the ' Jamaat al-Islamiya' movement at Birzeit, and worked to raise funds to support the Islamic Jihad's military operations. He formed a cell with other activists belonging to the
organization from the Ramallah region, and worked to recruit other Israeli Arabs to the cell.
Hussam Khalil was marked by Saffouri as the man who could help transfer funds from Jordan to Israel to help finance the cell's operations. Khalil traveled to Ramallah to meet Saffouri and another activist, expressed his willingness to help transfer the funds and was officially recruited to the Islamic Jihad.
Hussam confessed in his questioning that he was aware of Saffouri's intentions and understood that the money would be used for military operations.
The Shin Bet said the case exposes the cooperation between Israeli Arabs who study in the territories and terror operatives who live there. Saffouri and Khalil will be indicted at the Haifa District Court in the coming days on charges of grave national security offenses.