Five suspected terrorists have been arrested for allegedly planning a series of attacks inside Israel, including a suicide bombing in Tel-Aviv that involved a Palestinian woman pretending to be pregnant. The arrests were part of a joint operation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet (Israel's domestic intelligence agency) and disrupted a plot by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the IDF announced Monday.
The Israelis say Jenin resident Yasmin Sha'aban confessed that she planned to carry out a suicide attack by pretending to be pregnant in order to get a permit to seek medical care in Israel. Once inside, she would detonate an explosive belt hidden under her clothes.
Sha'aban and her co-conspirators communicated with a Gaza-based terrorist, who guided them on constructing the bomb belt. The group also hoped to attack a bus and try to kidnap soldiers. During the arrests, Israeli security authorities discovered an M-16 assault rifle, a shotgun, ammunition and chemicals intended to make bombs.
The arrests were made in October and November, with the other suspects all living in the Tulkarm area.
During the summer war in Gaza, Israel foiled an elaborate Hamas plot to initiate a third Intifada against Israel and overthrow of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, a Hamas leader last week defended the Islamic State's ruthless terrorist campaign in Syria and Israel, according to an Investigative Project on Terrorism translation of the online statement (a link to the original post indicates that the account has been suspended).
"Your brothers in the Islamic State are devoted to God, so God will enable them, and they will establish the Caliphate, and be firm in the face of conspiracies, as the best of you, and we will seek shelter in its shade, we the people of Palestine; for would it be reasonable for there to be a rightly guided Caliphate, and it to leave occupied Palestine? This is impossible," wrote Ahmad Jaber Mahmoud Al Amsy, a professor at the Islamic University in Gaza, also identified in the post as a Hamas official.
Al Amsy also warned against participating in what he called a "distortion campaign" against the Islamic State and referenced Hamas' direct association with the Muslim Brotherhood.
"Please, oh people of guidance, oh those with hearts, oh possessors of rightly guided minds, oh sons of the rightly guided Islamic Movement, sons of the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, refrain from attacking, cursing, and vilifying your brothers in religion and faith, the sons of the Islamic State. Do not be their enemies."