Israeli authorities foiled a Palestinian cell's plan to conduct a terrorist attack targeting Jewish worshipers at Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank, Israel's domestic security agency Shin Bet announced.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization reportedly armed and directed the cell to carry out a bombing and shooting attack, featuring people associated with various Palestinian factions and demonstrating a high level of cohesion.
Four Palestinians were arrested, including Nassim Damiri, 30, who is affiliated with Fatah and was arrested on numerous occasions in the past; Mahmed Damiri, 23, a Palestinian Authority police officer; Yasser Tzarawi, 25, a Hamas operative with a prison record; and Adwan Nazel, 24, of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also among the detained.
The plan allegedly involved Nazel and Tzarawi providing logistical support, weapons, surveillance and cover, while the Damiri cousins conduct the terrorist attack.
This development comes amid rising tensions between Israel the Islamic Jihad, as the group threatens to retaliate against Israel if Mohammad Allan – the former hunger-striking detainee affiliated with the terrorist group – is harmed.
Last week, the Israel Defense Forces blamed Islamic Jihad operatives in Syria for firing four rockets which landed in the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee – signalling the first time that rockets from Syria struck Israel proper since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
While the terrorist group denied involvement in the cross-border missile barrage, Israel accused Iran of funding and ordering the attack.
"We have credible information that the attack was carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization and was facilitated and directed by an Iranian operative Saeed Izaddhi, who heads the Palestinian unit in the Al-Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps," said Israel's Foreign Ministry in a statement sent to the world powers that signed a nuclear agreement with Iran last month.
While touring Israel's northern border with senior military officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon warned that part of the Iranian funds to be released in conjunction with the nuclear deal will be transferred to Iranian sponsored terrorist proxies dedicated to Israel's destruction.
Israeli officials revealed that retaliatory air strikes killed at least four operatives from the cell responsible for the rocket attack.
The Islamic Jihad has close ties with Iran and maintains a significant rocket arsenal in Gaza, however these latest developments signal the group's intentions to expand their bases of operations to the West Bank and Israel's northern border at Iran's behest.