JERUSALEM (Dec. 21)
Security authorities have arrested members of a terrorist squad of the Islamic Jihad who planned to stage a massive attack on a religious school in Jerusalem.
A last-minute hitch deterred implementation of a plan to kill elementary school children at the Itri yeshiva in southern Jerusalem, security authorities told a meeting of the Cabinet on Sunday.
The attack was planned for Oct. 6 — the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War — by the Islamic Jihad, a predecessor and rival of Hamas. Activists of both Moslem fundamentalist movements were among the 415 Palestinians expelled by Israel at the end of last week.
Planning of the operation was facilitated by a member of the terror group who had worked at the Talpiyot neighborhood yeshiva and was familiar with its layout.
The terrorists planned to set out for the yeshiva from Bethlehem, in a car bearing Israeli license plates, and then open fire at the children there en masse. They were then to switch to a car bearing license plates for the administered territories, which they would use to return to Bethlehem.
The plan failed because an accomplice with a car bearing Israeli license plates was involved in a traffic accident that day and was unable to supply the vehicle.
Security forces have detained seven members of the terrorist squad, named Khaled Stambuli in honor of the man who murdered President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in 1981.
The same group is alleged to have plotted to assassinate Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini on a public occasion, in the presence of reporters and television cameras. The aim was to demonstrate rejection of the peace talks with Israel with which Husseini is identified.
The leader of the group was described as a 27-year-old barber from the Al-Aroub refugee camp near Hebron. His name was not given.
Security forces seized a large quantity of weapons from the group, and more arrests were expected.