Photo Credit: Hadas Parush / Flash 90
Israeli Border Guard Police officers stand in Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur, where a police vehicle was hit by a Molotov cocktail, causing it and two other cars to catch fire. (August 2015)

Three Jerusalem Arabs were sentenced to prison terms on Monday for plotting to kill Jews on the Temple Mount, and security forces as they patrolled so-called “eastern Jerusalem” neighborhoods.

According to the indictment the leader of the cell, Nor Hamdan, 24, allegedly recruited the defendants and others to form a terror cell after deciding in February 2013 to attack security forces in Jerusalem and Jews who visited the Temple Mount “to pray.”

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Under questioning Hamdan confessed that he intended to “defend the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

According to a statement by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) the members of the terror cell reside in the A-Tur and Ras Al-Amud sections of Jerusalem, and in the Old City. Hamdan received training, guidance and weapons from terror organizations in Judea, Samaria and Gaza with whom he was in contact, according to the indictment.

The Shin Bet added that Hamdan was influenced by YouTube videos of past terrorist attacks that he saw on the Internet channel. One that particularly caught his eye was the shooting attack on Jerusalem’s Merkaz HaRav yeshiva in 2008. Eight Israelis were murdered in the attack. The terror cell was comprised of six members: • Nor Hamdan, leader of the cell, who has not yet been sentenced • Amjad Ra’azam, not yet sentenced • Omar VuzVuz, not yet sentenced • Jalal Koutoub, convicted on charges of assisting the enemy in wartime, conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping, two counts of attempted murder, abduction for the purpose of murder and other crimes. Sentenced to a prison term of 13 years. • Muhammed Sha’ar, convicted on charges of assisting the enemy in wartime, attempted robbery; sentenced to a prison term of 4.5 years. • Ahmad Bazalmit, convicted on charges of conspiracy to assist the enemy in wartime and attempted robbery; sentenced to a prison term of 3.5 years.

According to the Shin Bet statement, the terrorists “began firearms training with a handgun near Qalandia” and later planned to steal weapons from police officers in A-Turn.

In one incident the terrorists also briefly considered ambushing a police vehicle but were themselves caught off guard by police instead, according to the indictment.

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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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