Hamas members planned to jolt Israel into halting the conflict in Gaza by assassinating the Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but the plot was foiled by Israeli security forces, according to an announcement by the Shin Bet intelligence agency.
Shin Bet said that three Palestinians from the Bethlehem area planned to kill the Israeli far-right politician by opening fire on his vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). There was no way to confirm the veracity of the claim. A spokesman for Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, said from Gaza that he did not have specific information about the case, but added that “leaders of the occupation who are responsible for killing children and women, and for defiling the sacred sites are legitimate targets for the resistance”, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, clashes erupted yesterday in the north, south and central parts of the occupied West Bank as Israeli-Palestinian tensions remained high three days after a Palestinian attack on a Jerusalem synagogue killed four worshippers and a policeman.
Adding to the volatile situation, Palestinian media reported late yesterday that an Arab woman was wounded after allegedly being intentionally run over by an Israeli driver in the Palestinian Shuafat neighbourhood of Jerusalem. The Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said he had no knowledge of such an incident. Four Israelis have been killed over the last month by Palestinian car attacks in Jerusalem.
Shin Bet’s statement, released late on Thursday, named the three suspects as Ibrahim Zir, 37, the head of the cell who had served time in prison for Hamas military activities, his brother Ziyad, 35 and a third man, Adnan Zabih. The three come from Harmala village, a few miles away from the settlement of Nokdim where Mr Lieberman lives. They allegedly planned to kill him by targeting his convoy on his way home. Shin Bet said the idea was “to send a message to Israel and end the war in Gaza”.
But the agency said it foiled the plot after Ibrahim Zir contacted another Hamas activist for help in obtaining the RPG. The three have been indicted in a military court for allegedly plotting to kill Mr Lieberman and conspiring to obtain the weapon, according to the Shin Bet statement.
In the West Bank, there were major demonstrations at Kalandia, Hebron, Kadum and al-Ram and small protests at dozens of areas throughout the territory, an army spokeswoman said. Troops used rubber bullets and .22 calibre rounds to quell a “very violent riot” at Kalandia, she added.
In Hebron, 350 Palestinians hurled rocks at the army and troops responded with teargas, the spokeswoman said. Palestinian reports said rubber bullets wounded a number of demonstrators. Also in Hebron, two Palestinians hurled a petrol bomb at an army post, setting it ablaze, the spokeswoman said. The two escaped.
In Kadum, hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks and troops responded with .22 calibre bullets, the spokeswoman said. Three people were wounded, according to the Palestinian news agency Maan. In al-Ram, a soldier was slightly injured as dozens of people threw rocks at troops.
Meanwhile, tensions remained high inside Israel. In the northern city of Acre, the car of a Muslim cleric, Samir Aasi, who had participated in an inter-religious condolence event at the synagogue the day after the attack, was damaged with acid. In Hadera, also in northern Israel, a 53-year-old man was arrested on suspicion that he threatened Arab workers in a restaurant. Ynet news agency reported that police suspect he complained to the owner about employing Arabs, threatened to harm them, and that he came back with a knife and threatened them again. One of the workers overpowered him and police arrived on the scene and arrested him.
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