Photo Credit: ISA / Shin Bet
Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha

Israeli security and intelligence agents have foiled a major attack plan by the Gaza-based terrorists who planned to abduct and kill an IDF soldier.

Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group, was indicted Thursday (Oct. 20, 2016) in Be’er Sheva District Court by the State Attorney’s Office, Southern District, on terrorism-related charges.

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Taha was arrested on September 21 by a joint team of Israeli police and Shin Bet intelligent agents as he attempted to enter Israel from Gaza through the Erez Crossing, ostensibly for commercial reasons, after an extended investigation.

It was learned during questioning that the Khan Younis resident was leading a (PIJ) terror cell from Gaza, and was planning to carry out a large-scale terror attack at a wedding hall in southern Israel. The plan included the abduction and murder of an IDF soldier, whose body would then be held in Gaza, to be used as a bargaining chip in future prisoner swap talks with the Israeli government.

Under interrogation, Taha revealed that he had been recruited by Wael Sufiyan Abu Taha, a senior PIJ terrorist living in Gaza. The recruiter directed him to establish a military infrastructure and prepare to carry out the aforementioned attacks. Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha, in turn, recruited three additional cohorts who have also been arrested:

* Shafik Hamad Abu Taha, born in 1961, from the Gaza Strip, who had been present in Israel illegally. He was employed at the events hall where the attack was to have been perpetrated.

* Ahmed Taysir Abdul Rahman Abu Taha, born in 1977, from the Gaza Strip, who had also been present in Israel illegally; and

* Hani Massoud Nasir Abu Amra, born in 1976, originally from Deir Al-Balah, who had been living in the south after receiving temporary resident status for “family unification.”

Mahmoud and Shafik had already carried reconnaissance on the designated events hall in southern Israel, and had developed their operations plan to maximize the number of casualties.

At the same time, Mahmoud began his plan to abduct and murder an IDF soldier for bargaining purposes, receiving from Wael Sufiyan Abu Taha thousands of shekels with which to rent an apartment in Israel. This is where he would take his victim, kill him and bury him, while delivering his personal effects to Gaza for use in negotiations.

“This grave case underscores, again, the efforts of Gaza-based terrorists to carry out murderous attacks in Israel, in addition to their activities in Gaza,” warned a spokesperson for the Shin Bet.

“The case also reiterates the manner in which terrorists will exploit humanitarian and economic permits to enter Israel, as well as the risk posed by Arabs from the Palestinian Authority who are present in Israel illegally.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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