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Netanya wedding hall bombing foiled



Security forces recently foiled a Hamas plot to bomb sites in Netanya, infiltrate a terrorist into a settlement in Samaria, and kidnap a soldier.

Details of the plot were released by the Shin Bet on Tuesday, including information about the arrest of four Hamas terrorists, all university students in Nablus and Kalkilya, by security forces in June and July.

The affair reveals intensive attempts by Hamas in Nablus to launch attacks. The cell planned to kidnap a soldier and demand the release of Palestinian security prisoners incarcerated in Israel; launch a suicide bombing in a wedding hall or antique shop in the Netanya industrial zone; shoot at one of the Jewish communities located near Kalkilya; and dispatch a terrorist posing as a deaf and mute peddler to infiltrate Shoham and shoot residents.

Among those arrested, Ala'a Joisi, 23, originally of Tulkarm, headed the cell and was one of the leaders of the Kutla Islamiya movement at An-Najah University in Nablus. In March, security forces thwarted a suicide car bombing which he masterminded. Joisi was arrested on June 10.

Khaled Ahmed Salim, 21, of Jayous in the Kalkilya area, was a member of the Kutla Islamiya movement at the Open University in Kalkilya. Salim was arrested by security forces on June 9.

Khir Ahmed Wahdan, 26, of Rantiss in the Binyamin region, also a student at An-Najah and active in the Kutla Islamiya movement, was incarcerated in Israel between 2000-2003 for terrorist activities. Wahdan was arrested on June 15.

Osama Rahman Abu Mahane, 23, of Atil, an Israeli identity card holder, also studied at An-Najah and was a member of the Kutla Islamiya movement. Mahane, who worked at an ice cream factory in the Netanya industrial zone, compiled preliminary information in preparation for the planned suicide attack there. He was arrested on July 7.

Details regarding six Fatah Tanzim members including two top commanders killed by special undercover Border Police units in the streets of Tulkarm on Saturday, were released for publication on Tuesday.

Mahdi Tanbuz, the 21-year-old commander of the Tulkarm cell, and his deputy Hani Mahmud Aweideh, 26, were both killed in the gun battle. Tanbuz and Aweideh were recruited to the Tulkarm cells in 2002.

According to officials, both were responsible for planning and dispatching numerous shootings and bombings carried out by Tanzim in the Tulkarm area over the past two years. In March, they initiated plans to send a terrorist to infiltrate Avnei Hefetz and shoot at drivers entering and leaving the community. In recent days, Tanbuz was planning a shooting against soldiers deployed in the Tulkarm area.

Aweideh was in charge of the cell which launched a shooting at the David Palace banquet hall in Hadera in January 2002 in which six Israelis were murdered.

Two others killed were identified as Said Nasser, a 16-year-old a member of the cell run by Tanbuz, and Abed al-Rahim Shadid, 34. Shadid was responsible for the murder of a number of Palestinians he suspected of collaborating with Israeli authorities. He was released from prison by Israel in 1999 as a gesture in the framework of the peace process.

Security officials claimed that two others killed in the operation were members of the same cell but provided no further details.

Members of the International Solidarity Movement who were in Tulkarm at the time of the gun battle claimed that, of those killed, only Tanbuz and Aweideh were affiliated with Fatah Tanzim and that they were the only ones who were armed when Israeli security forces attacked.

A statement published by the ISM stated that Said Abu Qumra, 24, and Ahmed Baroug, 26, were civilians visiting the area who were caught in the crossfire and that Muhammad Shanti, an 18-year-old high school student, was also killed.

The ISM disputed the circumstances of the killings and claimed that the only weapons fired were those belonging to Israeli security forces. The ISM mocked Israeli claims that Tanbuz and Aweideh were planning to launch attacks and stated, "Aweideh and Tanbuz were standing at the side of the street when they were assassinated... there is no reason to believe that at the moment they were killed they were about to carry out an attack. This just happened to be the moment when soldiers were... tipped off by a collaborator as to their whereabouts."



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