Palestinian Security Forces Planned Bus Hijacking, to Hold Hostages at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

(Ha'aretz) Amos Harel and Jonathan Lis - The Shin Bet security service revealed Thursday that it had uncovered a Bethlehem-based group comprising Tanzim activists and Palestinian security forces members who were responsible for the last two suicide attacks in Jerusalem, on Bus no. 19 in late January and Bus no. 14 in late February, in which 19 people were killed. The group was also planning to commandeer at least one Israeli bus, take its passengers hostage, and hold them in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and had almost finalized the plan when the cell members were arrested. In another case, a Palestinian suicide bomber from the Nablus area who was headed for Jerusalem on Purim eve was assisted on his way to reach his target by Tanzim members holed up at Arafat's compound in Ramallah. The would-be attacker eventually was arrested before reaching the capital. The Shin Bet also reported thwarting a large-scale terror attack in Tel Aviv on Purim. Several Palestinians who planned to carry out the attack were arrested in the center of Tel Aviv on March 2. A senior security source said many members of the PA security forces played a central role in terror attacks. "The attempt to transfer security responsibility in Bethlehem to the Authority has not proved itself as relates to the security of the civilians," he said, adding that the PA made no real effort to prevent terrorists from entering Israel from the Bethlehem area.

2004-03-19 00:00:00

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