JERUSALEM, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Israeli authorities said Sunday they broke up an alleged Hamas plot to launch terrorist attacks inside Israel, including bombing a popular shopping mall.
Two West Bank residents were indicted by the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office on charges that included recruiting maintenance workers at the Mamilla open-air mall to smuggle in a bomb during the busy Jewish High Holidays shopping season.
"During questioning, members of the terror cell mentioned other initial plans to carry out additional attacks, including harming IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers by booby trapping homes in Ramallah, manufacturing and firing rockets at Israeli communities near Ramallah, and attempts to get hold of handguns to fire on IDF soldiers at the Hezma roadblock, northeast of Jerusalem," the Israeli security service Shin Bet said in a written statement.
The two men who were indicted were allegedly led by another Ramallah resident, Hamdi Romana, 22, who was expected to be indicted separately. The timing of the charges was not indicated, the Jerusalem Post said.
Romana was and the other suspects were arrested in August. A search of his home by Israeli agents turned up bomb-making materials and instructions plus evidence Romana had been in communication with a reputed Hamas explosives expert.
The bomb plot was described as being near its final phases. The goal was to detonate the bomb during the period that includes Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
Shin Bet said Romana recruited two Arab residents of Jerusalem who worked at the Mamilla mall and carried Israeli identification cards, which Israeli broadcaster Arutz Shiva said would presumably allow them freer movement around town.
The bomb was to be wrapped like a present and stashed in one of the maintenance workers' lockers until the holidays were in full swing. It would then be planted in a restaurant or some other area where large numbers of shoppers would be present.
Shin Bet added that the arrests showed Hamas was still anxious to launch attacks inside Israel and was keen to recruit Arab residents of Israel to help them carry out their plots.