Israeli Police Catch Armed Palestinian Man Who Admitted to Planning ‘Massacre’ in Tel Aviv
Israeli forces detained a Palestinian man in Jaffa on Thursday who was armed with a firearm and pipe bombs packed with nails, thwarting the “mass casualty attack” he admitted to seeking to perpetrate.
Two officers from Yasam, a special patrol unit of the Israel Police, approached the man — identified as a 19-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Nablus — near Jaffa’s clock tower after their suspicions were raised by his behavior, they said in an interview following the incident. After searching his “heavy” bag, they discovered a Carlo submachine gun and two pipe bombs filled with nails, prompting an arrest.
The man, who entered Israel illegally, admitted in an initial investigation “that he was on the way to carry out an attack, and was on the way to find a crowded area in order to commit a shooting and massacre,” said Israeli Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai. It is believed the suspect sought to carry out his attack in Tel Aviv.
He is suspected of receiving help from a second individual who was detained later in the evening in Tapuach Junction in the West Bank, Army Radio reported.
Before he was caught in Jaffa, the would-be assailant had a previous brush with the law. He was arrested with a knife in April at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a flashpoint holy site that is revered by both Jews and Muslims, Israel’s Yediot Achronot reported. Arab leaders have claimed for decades that al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located in the complex, is under threat from Jews, with Israeli authorities blaming these charges for inciting Palestinian terrorist attacks.
During his interrogation following the April incident, he told officers that “every day I wanted to be a Shahid [martyr] — today and also tomorrow,” the Hebrew-language outlet reported. Police sought to indict the man on a terrorism charge, but the prosecutor’s office refused, police sources said. He was sentenced to four months in prison.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who earlier on Thursday held a security assessment with the Israeli military amid the increase in terrorism in the West Bank, commended the officers who detained the man — Master Sergeant Muhabou Mengistu and Sergeant Major Sharif Hasson — for their alertness and swift action.
“The entire State of Israel thanks you for your heroism,” he told the officers. “You saved many lives. I don’t want to think what would have happened if you hadn’t been nearby.”
Earlier this week, the Israeli military’s chief of staff said around 1,500 terror operatives were arrested, and hundreds of attacks thwarted, since the launch of a major counterterrorism operation in March.