Israel has arrested two members of an al Qaeda-run militant cell in annexed East Jerusalem that was planning to bomb the US embassy, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister’s office said on Wednesday.
The arrests were made last month.
The men were recruited by another al Qaeda agent in the Gaza Strip, according to Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency, suggesting that the militant network is taking root among Palestinians despite the long-held opinion of security experts that it has only marginal support in the region.
Hamas Islamists governing Gaza rejected the Israeli account as “silly fabrications”, saying it was an attempt to justify Israeli military strikes in the territory.
The two Palestinians, who could travel freely in Israel because of their Jerusalem residency, were recruited over Facebook and Skype, Shin Bet said in a statement, which appeared to be based on alleged confessions by the detainees.
According to the agency, the Palestinians planned to provide bomb vests to foreign militants posing as Russian tourists for attacks on the US embassy in Tel Aviv, as well as a double suicide bombing on an Israeli convention centre in Jerusalem.
The detainees were further accused of planning to kidnap a soldier and attack an Israeli bus in the occupied West Bank.
The Shin Bet said that a third Palestinian, from the West Bank city of Jenin, was in custody on suspicion of planning to set up an al Qaeda cell in his area.
(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AFP)
Date created : 2014-01-22