Islamic Jihad has recruited both Palestinians and Israelis for a series of major strikes in Israel. The first attack, the bombing of a bus in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam in December 2013, was foiled byan alert passenger.
“The incident in Bat Yam shows the threat of terror is always in the background, and in particular, in times like now, when there is an attempt to advance the peace process,” Israeli police commander Inspector General Yohanan Danino said.
So far, the Israel Security Agency has reported the arrest of 14 Jihad operatives and suspected collaborators. They said four of the detainees were deemed senior members of Jihad and residents of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, one of whom worked in a restaurant in Tel Aviv. The others included Israeli Arabs suspected of helping smuggle weapons and equipment as well as Jihad operatives into Israel.
“The investigation continues,” ISA said. “Additional arrests are expected.”
One of the Jihad detainees was identified as a police officer of the Palestinian Security Forces which operate in the Palestinian Authority. with training and oversight from the US, the EU and Canada.
The officer, Hamdi Tamari, has been accused of helping assemble the cellular phone-activated bomb for the Bat Yam bus attack.
PA officers were recruited to acquire weapons and collect intelligence for operations against Israel. They said Tamari had been accepted into the PA force despite a previous jail term in Israel.
“This is additional proof of the direct involvement of Palestinian Authority personnel in terrorism,” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. “The time has come for Abu Mazen [PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] to stop clebrating with released murderers, and to lead his people toward peace.”
The Bat Yam bombing on Dec. 22 did not incur casualties. A passenger spotted the bomb and the bus was evacuated.
“We found 25 kilograms of explosives meant for additional attacks,” an official said. “This group knew how to prepare explosive devices.” Security sources s said the bombing could reflect efforts by Iran to sponsor mass-casualty strikes in the Jewish state. “All of these issues raised many eyebrows, including the possibility that the suspects had outside connections, from the Gaza Strip or from other places,” Israeli defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishai said. “The Palestinian Islamic Jihad receives logistics, inspiration and funding from Iran.”