Police: Temple Mount Attack Thwarted
reprinted from Ynetnews
Nine far-right activists suspected of plotting to attack holy Jerusalem site with missile, 'explosive model airplane;' suspects' attorney says Shin Bet undercover agent attempted to persuade suspects to purchase missile
By Efrat Weiss
Has the Shin Bet foiled attempts to carry out terror attacks on the Temple Mount - or is the affair indicative of the "hysteria" within the security forces regarding their battle against anti-disengagement right-wing activists?
The Shin Bet and Israel Police detained, but later released two groups of far-right activists who authorities say plotted terror attacks on the Temple Mount as part of the anti-disengagement efforts, police revealed Monday.
Security establishment officials say one group planned to use grenades and a missile in the attack, while the other planned to attack the holy site with an "explosive model airplane."
In all, nine people have been arrested.
The case raises difficult questions regarding the validity of the security forces' suspicions, as security officials admit the plans to attack the Temple Mount were by no means in their operational phase.
Second, no weapons or ammunition of any kind were found during searches of the nine suspects, who have been released on bail and placed under house arrest. No indictments have been filed so far.
The case strengthens right-wing claims that the Shin Bet and Israel Police are exaggerating their efforts to prevent anti-disengagement activity, so much so that the freedom of expression is being suppressed.
Justice Ministry officials said the district attorney's office decided there was not enough evidence to prove the suspects committed a crime. It seems the suspects only planned to carry out the attack, but later recanted prior to their arrest, the officials said.
Interior Minister Gideon Ezra told Ynet the affair "is not serious."
"The Arabs will think people really want to destroy the Temple Mount," he said. "There are no indictments because there was no crime. If it were serious would they have been released? The whole story is exaggerated."
'A third intifada'
According to the police, the prime suspect in the case, 21-year-old Bratslev Hassid Avtalion Kadosh, asked his acquaintance Eyal Karmani to purchase a missile and grenades for use in the planned attack.
The suspects toured the Temple Mount area and located a Yeshiva rooftop overlooking the site from which they planned to launch the missile attack.
The two agreed that after the attack they would hurl grenades at police forces arriving at the scene and then commit suicide.
However, when the two were unable to come up with the necessary funds to purchase the missile or the know-how to operate it, they decided to consult with 26 –year-old Elior Chen of Beitar Ilit, who suggested they take a loan from the bank so they would be able to acquire the missile and told them he would put them in touch with former IDF soldiers who would teach them how to operate it.
Kadosh said during his interrogation his goal was to "create a third intifada and a war with Arab countries, a move that would stifle the disengagement plan and facilitate the transfer of Arabs from Israel."
'Israel is responsible'
During the affair's second phase, police detained 61-year-old Ilan Hirschfeld of Raanana, who is known as a supporter of far right causes.
Security establishment sources said Hirschfeld admitted he had examined the possibility of attaching cameras to a model airplane and flying it over the Temple Mount to provoke the Arab population.
Police sources said during the investigation the suspect expressed his opposition to the disengagement, and it was revealed that he had consulted with youngsters specializing in flying model airplanes.
Hirschfeld told Ynet allegations of his involvement in the plan to attack the Temple Mount are unfounded.
"I am more than 60 years old; I have heart problems. I never wanted to do anything of the sort, I simply wanted to photograph (the site) and show people the construction being done there," he said.
Following his investigation Hirschfeld was released on bail and forbidden from entering Jerusalem for 15 days.
Palestinian Legislative Committee representative Hatam el-Qadr told Ynet the international community must act urgently and convene the U.N. Security Council to discuss threats on the Temple Mount.
"The extremists in Israel are supported by a large sector of the Israeli security establishment and army, and the entire world must hold Israel fully responsible for any attack on mosques, which may ignite the entire region," he said.
Police thwart attack on Temple Mount
reprinted from The Jerusalem Post
by Etgar Lefkovits
Three Jewish extremists have been questioned by police for allegedly planning to fire a missile at a mosque on Jerusalem's Temple Mount in an effort to torpedo this summer's planned unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, police announced Monday.
The three men were part of a group of nine Israeli Jewish suspects arrested over the last month in two separate cases over alleged plans to attack the Temple Mount.
But calling into question the strength of the police's case, however, all of the suspects have been released from custody, with the state attorney's office deciding not to press charges against any of the suspects due to lack of evidence and the fact that they had second thoughts about their plot even before they were detained.
"Beyond the planning, it has not been proven that those involved in the case had enough time to carry out any crime, and it appears that the suspects repented and changed their minds even before their arrests," a Justice Ministry statement on the case read.
The three key suspects in the first case, who were apprehended last month in a joint Jerusalem police-Shin Bet sting operation before they could carry out their plans, were placed under house arrest by a Jerusalem court, before being released.
A court gag order, which was in place on the case, was lifted Monday afternoon.
According to police, the three key suspects in the case planned to fire a missile at a mosque on the heavily-guarded Temple Mount in order to thwart this summer's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip. The two men, defined by police as "emotionally unstable" then planned to kill themselves.
Over the last year, Israeli security officials have repeatedly warned of the possibility that Jewish extremists could try to attack the super-sensitive Jerusalem holy site as a way of sabotaging the planned summer pullout from Gaza, an event Israeli security officials refer to as the "doomsday" scenario.
The former head of the domestic Shin Bet security service Avi Dichter has said that coupled with the possibility of an assassination attempt on the life of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the threat of an attack by Jewish extremists on the Temple Mount is of the highest concern among security officials, as Israel prepares to withdraw from Gaza.
With the walled-in compound heavily guarded by police, security officials have warned in the past that Jewish extremists might try to fire a missile or a rocket at the main mosque at the site.
Police said that the prime suspect in the case, 21 year old Avtalion Kadosh, a Bratslev hassid asked a friend, Eyal Karamani, 23, of the central Israeli city of Rehovot if he could procure a Lau missile and grenades to carry out the attack.
Kadosh then told his family of his plans to attack the Temple Mount, police said.
At a certain point, his brother, Akiva Kadosh, 25, recanted, and refused to cooperate with the plan, the police said.
During this time, the prime suspects in the case allegedly approached criminal elements to get their arms, and visited the Temple Mount as well as nearby rooftops in the Jewish and Muslim Quarters of the Old City as they scouted variance sites for their attack.
In the end, the group picked the rooftop of a nearby yeshiva to fire the missile, police said.
According to police, the two key suspects decided to kill themselves after their planned attack.
When the two suspects realized they were without the means to acquire a missile or the expertise to fire one, they allegedly consulted a third suspect, 26 year old Elior Chen of the Jerusalem suburb of Betar Illit, who suggested they take a loan from the bank to acquire the money for the arms, and offered to put them in touch with people who knew how to work the missile, police said.
Police said that the three main suspects in the case have confessed to the planned attack.
The prime suspect in the case told police that his goal in the attack was to "create a third intifada, and a war with the Arabs which would stop the Gaza pullout plan and bring about the transfer of Arabs from Israel," police said.
The attorney for the three central suspects said Monday that the whole affair was a Shin Bet provocation.
"There is no case here. What we are talking about is an attempt by a Shin Bet agent to implicate a group of Bratslev hassidim, and to encourage them on to carry out a crime," the attorney, Naftali Wertzberger, said on Israel radio.
He noted that his clients -- who had no army training-- had been released from custody for a month now.
In all, five Jewish suspects were originally arrested in the case, while four others were apprehended in a separate affair that police were investigating at the time.
In the second, less serious case, 61 year old Ra'anana resident and long time Kahane activist Ilan Hirschfeld was questioned by police about a plan to fly over the Temple Mount in a remote-controlled model airplane fitted with a camera, in what police called "a provocation against the Arabs."
Hirschfeld categorically rejected the accusations against him Monday, noting that he is above 60 years old with a heart condition.
"All I wanted to do was to take pictures of the Wakf building going on at the Temple Mount," he said.
Highlighting the looming uncertainties in the two cases, a scheduled Jerusalem police press conference, with the city police chief detailing the arrests was canceled at the last minute Monday afternoon without any explanation.
In light of the ongoing threats to the site, Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco has recently ordered more patrols in and around the compound.
Some 700 officers, including regular police, paramilitary border troops and undercover forces, are regularly assigned to the Old City alone.
In response to the increasing threats at the site, the Internal Security Ministry has also decided to set up a state of the art security system of electronic sensors on the Temple Mount a cost of about NIS 100 million (US $23 million).
The sensors are to be installed around the walls of the mount and are designed to alert security forces in the event of an attempted entry in the area.
But the newly enhanced security plan is unlikely to go in effect before the planned Gaza pullout, now slated to begin in mid-August.
Plans to attack the Temple Mount are not unprecedented.
Two decades ago, the Shin Bet caught a group of Jewish extremists who had amassed large amounts of explosives with the aim of blowing up the Dome of the Rock.
In 1969, an Australian Christian fundamentalist set fire to the Al Aksa Mosque, causing extensive damage. The Australian, who was found to be insane by an Israeli court, said he wanted to destroy the mosques to pave the way for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple.
Hundreds of Jewish and Christian visitors peacefully tour the holy site on a daily basis during morning visiting hours since the Temple Mount was reopened to non-Muslims visitors a year and half ago.
The Temple Mount is Judaism's holiest site as the ancient compound where the two Biblical Jewish temples once stood. The hilltop is known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, where Muslim tradition says the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, and is the third holiest to Islam after Mecca and Medina.
Police Uncover Two Temple Mount "Conspiracies"
reprinted from Arutz Sheva
With great fanfare, the police announced today that it had broken up two "Jewish conspiracies" to attack the Temple Mount mosques - plots that never passed the talking stage.
The police were forced to admit that no indictments would be handed down, and no weapons were found in their possession. In addition, none of the nine "suspects" were kept in jail - though they face various restrictions on their mobility for the coming weeks.
Members of one "cell" discussed attacking the Dome of the Rock with missiles, but never acquired the weapons or the know-how to perpetrate the attack. Another man, Ilan Hirshfeld of Raanana - a 61-year-old retired air-conditioner retailer - was interrogated for several hours last month after he asked his employees if it was possible to install a camera aboard a drone flying over the Temple Mount.
The police originally scheduled a press conference this afternoon to formally release the gag orders on the story. They canceled it, however, raising suspicions that the plots were never particularly serious in the first place.
Anti-disengagement groups responded to Hirschfeld's brief arrest last month by accusing the government of trying to shut right-wing mouths. "His arrest is an attempt to de-legitimize him and you and me," wrote Cities of Israel spokesperson Susie Dym to her email list of pro-Land of Israel supporters. "This is a grave escalation on the part of the Shabak (General Security Service)."
Hirschfeld's "brutal arrest by Israeli intelligence officers," wrote a spokesman for the Hevron Jewish Community, "can only be seen as part of Sharon's dictatorial policies, attempting to breed fear and distrust. [We] vehemently protest the obvious beginning of a renewed 'witch hunt' aimed at paralyzing all protests against the planned expulsion of over 9,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and the northern Shomron."
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