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Growing Threat from Homegrown Israeli Arab Terrorism

Four Israeli Arabs in the north were arrested for selling weapons to terrorists. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter says a trend is developing.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 7/13/2008, 12:17 PM

It was cleared for publication Sunday morning that four Israeli Arabs were arrested more than a month ago on charges of selling weapons to terrorists.

The suspects, three of whom lived in the village of Kafr Makr, and the fourth a resident of the northern city of Akko, were nabbed in a joint sting operation by officers from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police Galilee District.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter noted Friday night, following an attack on two Border Police officers in the Old City of Jerusalem, that there has been a rise in terrorist activity by Israeli Arabs. Dichter said the attacks appear to be "organized."

The two officers were shot during a routine patrol shift by an unknown assailant near the Lion's Gate entrance to the Old City. Although the attack itself was caught on security camera, the attacker's face was hidden in the darkness and thus impossible to identify. He escaped the same way he entered the area, through a nearby cemetery.

One of the officers wounded in the attack remains in critical condition. His patrol partner, who suffered moderate injuries, is still listed in fair condition. Both are hospitalized at Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Israeli Arab Terrorist Trend Developing?
Two cousins from the Abu Sakut clan in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat were indicted last week on charges of membership in the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization.

Taher and Omar Abu Sakut were caught in late May in a joint operation by Israel Police and the Shin Bet. Both confessed to a list of crimes under interrogation last month, including aiding the enemy in wartime, delivering information to the enemy in order to harm national security, and membership in a terrorist organization.

In Jerusalem, where a quarter of a million of the city's residents are Arabs, there have been two major terror attacks by Jerusalem Arabs within the past four months.

On July 2, an eastern Jerusalem Arab previously unknown to security forces climbed into the bulldozer he drove as a construction worker and proceeded to mow down civilians in the center of Jerusalem.

The terrorist rammed the huge earth-moving shovel into two buses and then slammed into six cars, killing three people and wounding 45 others before an off-duty IDF soldier and a Yassam police officer shot and killed him, ending the murder spree.

A deadly attack by another eastern Jerusalem Arab resident four months earlier  raised red flags over the issue of how safe it is to hire Arab workers – even those who are residents of Jerusalem.

Eight young students at the Merkaz HaRav Kook yeshiva in Jerusalem were gunned down in a bloody attack by an Arab driver the boys knew and trusted and who had often transported them and others to and from school.

A previously unknown Israeli Arab terrorist group calling itself the "Free Galilee Brigades" (FGB) claimed responsibility for both attacks.

In an interview conducted through third-party e-mail, an unidentified terrorist leader from the organization told a journalist for the London-based Arabic daily Al Quds Al Arabi that the group had carried out a number of other attacks as well and threatened more to come.