Jamil Saffouri
Photo: Hagai Aharon

Islamic Jihad suspects deny allegations

Court extends remand of two Israeli Arabs suspected of planning to assassinate Israeli pilots, scientists. Father of one of suspects says actions ascribed to them 'acceptable'

The Akko Magistrate's Court on Friday extended the remand of two Israeli Arabs suspected of planning to assassinate Israeli pilots and scientists by five days.


The two Shfaram residents are 20-year-old Anis Saffouri, a communications student at Ramallah's Birzeit University, and 19-year-old Hussam Khalil, who studies electronic engineering in Jordan. They both denied the allegations against them.


On Thursday it was cleared for publication that 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 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 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.


Anis Saffouri's father, Jamil, 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.


The two young men are suspected of unlawful organization, contacting a foreign agent, aiding the enemy at a time of war and weapon offenses. The police prosecutor filed a statement with the court, declaring that the two would soon be indicted.


'Government inciting against Arabs'

Jamil Saffouri told Ynet before the court hearing that his son denies the allegations against him, but that he himself does not object "military actions" against the occupation.


"I believe we will eventually discover there is nothing in the allegations against them, but such actions as the ones ascribed to them are acceptable by me," the father said. "There are people who think that by using occupation and force they will succeed and they walk with their head against the wall, and now they discover that there are those who can resist them."


He noted that he sees a difference between acts of terror against innocent people, which he object to, and what he views as legitimate resistance like the plan to target pilots.


Saffouri's lawyer, Attorney Salim Wakim, said that he was allowed to meet with his client for the first time only two weeks ago. "According to information he gave me, some of the confessions ascribed to him by the police were obtained in illegal manners," he added.


Hussam Khalil's father, Khaled, said that the suspicions against his son were false. "Everything released yesterday in the police statement was one big lie," he explained.


"Yesterday they said that my son was allegedly involved in attempting to kill people, in weapon offenses, and today the suspicions were reduced to the offense of conspiring to contact a foreign agent. This is part of the government's policy to incite against the Arabs in Israel."


פרסום ראשון: 08.29.08, 12:51
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