It has been cleared for release today (Sunday) that the Israeli General Security Service (GSS/Shabak), in cooperation with the IDF, broke up a Hamas terrorist cell that was in the advanced stages of planning a terrorist atrocity against Israeli civilians in Jerusalem.
The terrorist operatives, residents of Ramallah and Jerusalem, were arrested last month (August), and had planned their attacks to coincide the upcoming Jewish festive period of Rosh Hashana (New Year), Yom Kippur and Succot.
The cell leader has been named as Hamdi Hasnin Hamdi Rumana, 24, from the Ramallah/El Bireh area.
During his interrogation, security services uncovered a weapons and explosives laboratory in Rumana's home, along with bomb-assembly instructions, and discovered that he had been in contact with a Hamas technical expert from Beituniye, as well as two residents of Ramallah, who had provided him with the chemicals and instructions necessary to assemble explosive devices.
The three accomplices have been detained for interrogation, pending charges.
It was also discovered that Rumana had recruited two Arab residents of Jerusalem into his cell to help carry out an attack targeting Jews in the capital. Their possession of Israeli I.D. cards would have made it far easier to move around without being questioned.
The plan was for the two men - employed as maintenance workers in the Mamilla Mall in central Jerusalem - to smuggle an explosive device into the mall and hide it in their personal lockers until the start of the Jewish festivals, when the mall would be packed with holiday shoppers. The terrorists were then instructed to plant the device, disguised as a gift box, in one of the mall's busy restaurants, or in another location with a high concentration of Israeli civilians.
In the course of their interrogations, the suspects also revealed that they planned a number of additional terrorist atrocities, including the kidnap and murder of an Israeli soldier. They had also planned to manufacture rockets to fire against Israeli communities near Ramallah.
The men had also attempted to obtain pistols to use in attacks against Israeli security checkpoints in the Jerusalem area, including the busy Hizme checkpoint.
It should be noted that the cells exposure reveals the high motivation among terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria, particularly from Hamas, to launch attacks against Israel.