May 12, 2002

Booby Trapped Mosque in Nablus

(Communicated by Israeli security sources)

During the course of Operation Defensive Shield IDF forces arrested Shukri Ya’ish, a twenty-seven year-old resident of Nablus. During questioning, Shukri admitted that he was actively involved in the production of arms for use in terrorist attacks against Israeli targets. Among other things, he established bomb laboratories for the Fatah organization in Nablus, and worked in the production of explosives made from chemical compounds.

Shukri was also involved in the production of the Qassam rocket and in preparations for the testing of the rocker. In addition, Shukri was responsible for the production of about 120 improvised hand grenades and dozens of explosive charges, which were transferred to to Fatah/Tanzim terrorist operatives. He passed on a number of explosive charges to Nasser Awis, a senior Tanzim operative in Samaria who was also arrested during Operation Defensive Shield.

Shukri revealed that he received instructions to carry out terrorist attacks from officers in the Palestinian Authority who while serving in the National Security Apparatus were also involved in directing terrorist operations.

During questioning, Shukri also disclosed that a short time before his arrest, he had asked Rabia Abu Roub, a senior Islamic Jihad operative from Qabatia, to prepare an explosives belt for his personal use, in the event that he was arrested. Rabia prepared an explosives belt for him, concealed inside military attire and consisting of pockets holding canisters filled with explosives. During the IDF operation in Nablus, Shukri realized that he would be unable to approach IDF soldiers while snipers were deployed on rooftops to protect Israeli forces from terrorists planning bombing attacks.

Shukri also stated that he dismantled the explosives from the belt, and placed them inside a fire extinguisher. His colleague, Maed Jameil placed the explosive charge in the Al Satwan mosque, in the Yasmina neighborhood of Nablus. Maed planned to connect the container wires to a long electric cord leading to a car battery, and then to hide away behind sand bags. He planned to detonate the explosives as soon as the IDF soldiers reached the entrance of the mosque. IDF soldiers foiled Maed’s terrorist attack.

According to Shukri, aside from the aforementioned explosive device, the mosque also contained 40 other explosive charges for the use of the Fatah Tanzim terrorist operatives in Nablus.

Shukri and other operatives showed no hesitation in using holy places, such as mosques and churches, for the execution of terrorist attacks. Shukri’s plan to detonate powerful explosives against IDF soldiers near the mosque attests to the fact that Shukri was not troubled by the thought of blowing up the mosque and destroying it.

It has also become clear that the fighting in Nablus was planned and well organized. The IDF was not confronting defenseless civilians, but, rather, well-armed terrorists equipped with explosive devices and other weapons, with which they intended to kill as many Israeli soldiers as possible.