Jewish worshipers on Temple Mount
Jewish worshipers on Temple MountTemple Institute

Israeli officials on Thursday announced that they had nabbed a gang of Arab terrorists who were planning a terror attack against Israelis or tourists who visited the Temple Mount. An indictment was handed down Thursday against five suspects, residents of an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem, on charges of terrorism and conspiracy to murder and kidnap innocent civilians.

According to the indictment, the gang's leader, Nur Hamdan, last February organized the group to carry out a shooting attack against Jews or tourists who visited the Temple Mount. According to the rules of the Waqf, which essentially has the last word on whom is allowed to visit, non-Moslems are allowed to tour the Mount for several hours a day. Jews are forbidden from praying on the Mount, and Jewish groups are followed around by a policeman and Waqf religious functionary to ensure that no praying takes place.

Hamdan and his gang contacted the Izaddin al-Qasam and the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades terror groups, as well as with terrorists in Arab towns in Judea and Samaria and in Gaza, for guidance and assistance on how to carry out the attack. The gang met numerous times in February and March of this year to discuss the plan.

The gang planned to attack groups of religious Jews who ascended the Mount, and to open fire on police stationed there as well. The group also planned to take some of those it injured as prisoners to be used in a deal to force Israel to release terrorists in Israeli prisons.

In March, two members of Hamdan's gang, Imad Sha'er and Jalal Kuttub, planned an additional terror attack; they decided to kidnap an Israeli civilian or IDF soldier waiting at a bus stop or seeking a ride, steal his weapon, and murder him. The two, along with a third terrorist, Amjad Razam, drove through the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood and picked up a young Jewish man who asked for a ride to the town of Adam, outside Jerusalem. The three drove in the direction of Samaria, but when it turned out he did not have a weapon, the dropped him off at his destination.

The gang was caught based on intelligence work by Israel Police, the Shabak, and the IDF.