JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s security service said it arrested a Palestinian terror cell that was planning an attack on Jewish worshippers at Joseph’s Tomb.
A statement released by the Shin Bet on Tuesday did not say when the arrest of the four-member cell based in the West Bank took place. The arrests were in conjunction with the Israel Defense Forces.
The tomb is located in the West Bank city of Nablus, which the Jews know as Shechem. The city is under the official control of the Palestinian Authority.
Jewish worshippers are permitted to visit the holy site once a month. The early-morning visits are co-ordinated with the military, which provides security. However, some Jews sneak in to pray at other times. The attack was to be directed at the worshippers making unofficial visits, the Shin Bet said.
The cell members were residents of nearby Palestinian communities and are associated with the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Tanzim terror groups, according to the Shin Bet said. They each had assigned positions, including acquiring weapons, intelligence gathering and executing the attack. The attack, which was co-ordinated in the Gaza Strip, was to include guns and explosives.
“In this investigation we have seen again very clearly that there is high motivation for operatives in Gaza to push and direct terror in the West Bank,” the Shin Bet statement said.