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Israel Shuts Down Hamas Cell.

By VOA News

Israel said it has shut down a cell belonging to the Palestinian militant group Hamas that allegedly participated in a series of bombings that killed 35 people this year. Officials said they have arrested 15 people from the cell, including several caught Saturday en route to another attack on the highway linking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Officials say four members of the ring are Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who had Israeli identity papers allowing them free movement in Israel. Those four include a painter, identified as Mohammed Odeh, who is accused of planting the bomb that exploded at Hebrew University in East Jerusalem last month. The blast killed nine people, including five Americans.

Israel Radio said the painter worked for a contractor at the university. Reports say he chose the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria as the site for the bombing knowing that few Arabs used the cafeteria, and that foreign students had meals there. The night before the bombing, the secret police said he jumped over the university's fence and placed the explosives under a bush. They added that he entered the campus the next morning with his employee's pass, retrieved the bomb and planted it in the cafeteria.

Israel said the cell's other attacks included a suicide bombing in March at a Jerusalem cafe that killed 11 people, and another suicide bombing at a billiards hall south of Tel Aviv in May that killed 15.

Officials said the cell was also behind an attempt to blow up Israel's largest fuel refinery near Tel Aviv. A fuel tanker truck blew up inside the refinery in May, but failed to ignite nearby storage tanks filled with gas.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Date:Aug 22, 2002
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