Synagogue massacre averted, terror cell revealed

Three Israeli Arabs arrested over terror plots to carry out massacre at Akko synagogue, attacks in Jerusalem.

David Rosenberg ,

Security outside Har Nof synagogue
Security outside Har Nof synagogue
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Three Israeli Arabs from the Galilee region were indicted on Wednesday over a plot to carry out a series of terror attacks in the northern city of Akko and Old City of Jerusalem.

Wednesday’s indictment of the terror cell not only revealed the group’s existence, but shed light on the terrorists’ gruesome plans, which were inspired by one of the worst terror attacks in recent years.

According to the indictment, Ali Sobeah, Ibrahim Shami, and Mahdi Basel had planned a major terror attack on Israeli security forces near Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Their plan included both stabbing attacks and automatic firearms.

The group allegedly was looking for higher casualty levels than other similar terror attacks, and when they failed to acquire submachine guns, the attack was called off.

Several days later the three met in a mosque in northern Israel to plan out other terror attacks, including a shooting attack on Israeli soldiers.

Over the course of the next few months, the terror cell considered a number of possible attacks involving knives and firearms. According to the indictment, the group aimed to cause a mass casualty event and then “die as martyrs”.

Eventually the cell settled on two attacks: first, to slaughter Jewish worshippers praying at an Akko synagogue in northern Israel, then attack soldiers either at a local military base or in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The planned attack on the Akko synagogue was reportedly influenced by the 2014 Har Nof Massacre, in which four worshippers and one police officer were slaughtered.

Hoping to finally acquire firearms for the planned attacks, the group planned to use money Mahdi would likely receive as gifts for his upcoming wedding.

The terror cell selected a synagogue on Ben Ami Street in Akko for the attack.

In March 2016 Ali Sobeah and Mahdi Basel purchased submachine guns, along with ammunition and extra magazines. In April the two were arrested by Israeli security forces, who had uncovered the terror cell and its plot against the Akko synagogue.