Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman [Photo Source: Yisroel Beiteinu]

On Sunday, the Israel Security Agency (also known as Shin Bet or Shabak for short) announced the arrest of members of an Islamic Jihad terror cell that planned to assassinate Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, according to JTAAccording to the Shin Bet, the six members of the cell planned to place an explosive charge on the minister’s route and appealed to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to receive funding for the attack. The terrorist ringleaders were identified as 25-year-old Mahmud Awad al-Asakra from the village of Rafida near Bethlehem (Judea) and 32-year-old Muhammad’ Ali Ibrahim ‘Asakara also from Rafida. Mahmud Awad al-Asakra was held in administrative detention between 2015 and 2017 for planning a terrorist attack and Muhammad’ Ali Ibrahim ‘Askara had previously served 2 prison sentences for his involvement in preparing a bomb and planning an attack against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). 

According to the Shin Bet agency, the 2 ringleaders planned to carry out the attack with the help of 4 of their Arab colleagues. The six terrorists, who were arrested at an early stage of the planning, were working to buy explosives for the manufacture of the explosive device and even turned to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to receive funding for the attack. 

According to the JTA, at least one of the members of the Islamic Jihad terrorist cell stated that his goal was to be arrested in order to receive prisoner payments from Islamic Jihad.

The recent terrorist plot was not the first time terrorists plotted to assassinate the defense minister. In 2014, Hamas operatives, headed by Ibrahim Salim Mahmoud Zir, a senior activist from the village of Kharamla in Bethlehem (Judea), were arrested for questioning. They were attempting to buy an RPG rocket to hit the vehicle in which the defense minister was traveling when they were caught by the Shin Bet.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who is the founder and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel Our Home”) party, lives in Nokdim, which is located in the Judean hills. Liberman and his party are strong advocates for the expansion of communities in Judea and Samaria.

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