In November, the IDF, ISA and the Israel Police exposed and arrested the members of a Ramallah-based terrorist cell, consisting of Hamas and Islamic Jihad affiliated operatives, who executed the terror attack on a Tel-Aviv bus on November 21, 2012, in which 26 Israeli civilians were wounded. The cell had been planning additional attacks but the security force’s rapid action during the immediate hours following the attack prevented their execution.
The primary terrorists who confessed their involvement in the terror attack:
- Ahmed Salah Ahmed Musa (b. 1987) – a Hamas operative and resident of Beit Liqya. Musa, the cell leader, was previously imprisoned between 2005 and 2006 for planning attacks against Israel and was responsible for intelligence collection, the production of the explosive device, recruiting the individual who planted the device, and remotely activating the device.
- Muhammad Abed Al Jfar Nasser Mfarja (b. 1994) – Israeli citizen, resident of Beit Liqya since September 2012. Muhammad was recruited to Hamas by Ahmed Musa, and was able to plant the explosive device on the bus in Tel Aviv, using the access provided to him by his Israeli ID.
- Fuad Rabach Sucry Azai, (b. 1985) – resident of Beit Liqya, is an “Islamic Jihad” operative who has been imprisoned a number of times for terrorist activity which included planning attacks and establishing a terrorist cell in which Musa was also a member. Azai also provided Ahmed Musa with a handgun and ammunition and attempted to provide him with an M-16 rifle.
- Muhammad Mahpod Said Damara (b. 1987) – resident of Mazari’ An-Nubani (north of Ramallah), Hamas operative. Prior to the execution of the terror attack Musa informed Damara and requested his assistance in drafting recruits. During the investigation, Damara admitted the possession of a rifle that was to be used during the attack.
ISA investigation of Musa revealed that the suspect researched online information extensively regarding the production and manufacturing of explosive devices, and methods of remote detonation using cellular devices. Musa also conducted various test explosions. He also acquired a hand gun to be used in the attack from Fuad Azai and attempted to acquire other weapons as well.
Musa increased his effort to execute the attack with the beginning of operation Pillar of Defense. Mfarja’s request to join the cell led to determination of Tel- Aviv as the target, facilitated by Mfarja’s ease of access to the city. Following this decision Musa began producing the device.
On the morning of the attack, Mfarja received a bag containing the explosive device made by Musa. The explosive device was attached to a cellular detonator. Musa instructed Mfarja to plant the bag inside the Tel- Aviv bus, and stated that following the Hamas attack he would receive Hamas training for use of the M-16 and would meet other Hamas operatives.
Mfarja arrived in Tel- Aviv carrying the bag and searched for a densely- packed bus. At approximately 11:55 he planted the bag inside a “Dan” bus and informed Musa after he disembarked from the bus. Musa then detonated the explosive device.
Investigations also showed that the cell planned additional attacks against soldiers in various locations, which included drive- by shootings. Members of the squad had already begun intelligence collection for these attacks.
Suicide bombing and assassination attempts of seniors in the Israeli government and city mayors were also considered. Musa contacted Damara and requested his assistance in drafting university recruits from the Birzeit University for suicide attacks. He also asked Fuad Azai to be a suicide bomber.
The members of the cell planned to rent an apartment in Tel- Aviv following the terror attack in order to continue their planning but were arrested before they had fulfilled their plans.
On December 19, the Tel- Aviv District Advocate filed an indictment to the Tel- Aviv District Court against Muhammad Mfarja, accusing him of assisting the enemy, attempted murder (dozens of incidents), conspiring to commit crimes, detonating explosive devices causing severe damage, carrying and conveying a weapon (explosive device) and assisting an illegal organization. Indictments against the remaining operatives will be filed soon.
The incident reflects ongoing Hamas and terrorist attempts to promote terror activity inside Israeli territory.