Terror cell planning attack on Jewish worshippers at Joseph’s Tomb nabbed

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian terror cell coordinated out of the Gaza Strip for planning an attack on worshipers at Joseph’s Tomb.

A statement released by the Shin Bet security service on Tuesday did not say when the arrest of the four-member cell based in the West Bank, conducted in conjunction with the Israel Defense Forces, took place.

The tomb is located in the West Bank in the city of Nablus, which is also known by Jews as Shechem.  The city is under the official control of the Palestinian Authority.

Jewish worshippers are permitted to visit the site considered holy to Jews once a month, in early morning visits coordinated with the military which also are guarded by the Israel Defense Forces. Some Jews sneak in to the site to pray at other times, however.

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The cell members were residents of nearby Palestinian communities and are associated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Tanzim terror groups. They each had assigned positions, including acquiring weapons, intelligence gathering and executing the attack. The attack was to include the use of guns and explosives and to be directed at the worshippers making unofficial visits.

“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. The investigation files were transferred to military prosecutors in recent days in order to prepare indictments.

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