Israeli intelligence busts Jewish terror cell responsible for firebombing Palestinian homes

© Ammar Awad
Israeli intelligence says it has managed to break up a Jewish terrorism network which had been carrying out attacks against Palestinian citizens in the West Bank. Among those arrested were two minors and an IDF soldier.

Israel’s intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, said that six members of the cell were suspected of trying to firebomb dwellings in which Palestinians were present, while the organization described the suspects as “extremely violent.” 

“During the latter half of 2015, there were a number of terror attacks and violent incidents against Palestinians in the Gush Talmonim region,” the Shin Bet said, as cited by the Times of Israel. “Two notable attacks were against buildings that had Palestinians inside.”

The intelligence agency said it had undertaken a “lengthy intelligence effort” in order to help expose the terror group. Among those arrested were two minors who were born in 1999 and 2000, as well as a 19-year-old IDF soldier. The three other men arrested were aged between 20 and 22 and hailed from the settlements of Nahliel and Kiryat Arba.

The suspects “confessed to carrying out widespread terror activities, which included attempts to harm inhabited Palestinian homes, attacking minorities, arson, and vandalizing Palestinian vehicles," according to the Shin Bet, as reported by the Jerusalem Post. 

The investigation found that the terror cell was behind seven attacks over the last year, including an assault on a farmer with sticks and tear gas, and the targeting of a house in the village of Mazra Kabaliya, which was firebombed at night while the family living there was asleep. The phrases "death to Arabs" and "Jews wake up" were daubed on the walls of building. "The firebomb miraculously bounced off the wall of the home, averting a major disaster," the Shin Bet said.

The terror group “systematically harmed Palestinians and their property, with full knowledge that human lives could be harmed, even after the result of the [fatal] arson attack on a home in Duma [in which Palestinian parents and their baby were murdered last year]." The Duma attack acted as an "inspiration," the Shin Bet said, according to the Jerusalem Post. 

On July 31, Israeli assailants threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a house in the town of Duma early in the morning. The ensuing blaze killed toddler Ali Dawabsheh, while his father Saad later died of injuries he sustained in the attack. 

The arsonists left inscriptions on the wall of the house, saying: “Long live the Messiah” and “Revenge.” 

“The Judaism of those who dance on the blood of babies is not my Judaism,” said Zionist Union Knesset Member Tzipi Living, according to Haaretz. “This is a group that wants to destroy Jewish Israel, to destroy this country from within, to turn it into a state of hatred and to destroy the regime from within,” she said. 

In January, Israeli prosecutors indicted four Jewish extremists in various violent crimes against Palestinians, including the deadly arson attack on the house in Duma which killed two members of the Dawabsheh family. 

Two people were eventually charged in the case, following months of investigation, with Palestinians furious over its slow pace. Amiram Ben-Uliel, a 21-year-old from Jerusalem, was charged with murder while an unnamed minor was named an accessory. According to Ben-Uliel’s indictment, he decided to commit the arson in retaliation for the shooting dead of an Israeli by a Palestinian a month prior to the attack. 

In the wake the arson attack, Prime Minister Netanyahu called for “zero tolerance” for Jewish extremists, while the cabinet approved new measures against Israelis who attack Palestinians, such as suspects being held in “administrative detention” - the process of holding suspects without trial which had been previously exclusively used against Palestinian terror suspects.