The Shin Bet, the IDF and Jerusalem Police combined last week to arrest members of a Hamas cell planning to bomb Jerusalem’s Mamilla mall during the High Holy Days.
The cell included two East Jerusalem residents who worked at the mall. They were recruited by Ramallah resident Hamdi Romana to place a bomb inside the shopping centre, the Shin Bet said.
The men were chosen because their Israeli ID cards would make it easier to get the explosives into Jerusalem, and their jobs as maintenance workers meant they could easily get past mall security. The plan had been to plant the explosive, disguised as a gift, inside a store or restaurant when the mall was full of holiday visitors.
Romana, 22, was the leader of the cell, the Shin Bet said, and confessed to being in touch with three other Hamas men in the city who supplied him with bomb-making equipment. Those men have also been arrested. Romana also had a bomb-making lab at his house, according to the Shin Bet.
The cell members confessed to planning other attacks, including firing at IDF soldiers at a checkpoint, booby-trapping Ramallah houses and launching rockets at Israeli towns near Ramallah.
The Shin Bet said the incident showed how terror organisations recruit Israeli ID holders to carry out attacks in Israel. Both the Tel Aviv bus bombing in November 2012 and the Jerusalem Convention Centre bombing in March 2011 were carried out by men with identity cards who were recruited by Hamas operatives in the West Bank.