Israeli security averts Netanyahu assassination plot

An Israeli man and two accomplices were arrested for planning terror attacks and the assassination of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, authorities said Tuesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he welcomes President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela (not shown) prior to their meeting at his Jerusalem office in Israel on May 17. Photo by Gali Tibbon/UPI | License Photo
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he welcomes President of Panama Juan Carlos Varela (not shown) prior to their meeting at his Jerusalem office in Israel on May 17. Photo by Gali Tibbon/UPI | License Photo

Investigators said the men were part of a terror cell that conspired to kill Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and planned an attack on U.S. consulate buildings and a Canadian delegation in Jerusalem.

Mahmoud Jamal Rashda, 30, was arrested in April. Officials said he’d received orders from a terrorist in Syria to carry out the attacks as part of a training program for the Palestinian Authority security forces, which included a plan to recruit a terrorist from Jordan.

The other two suspects, arrested in the following weeks, have not been identified. Indictments were filed against all three on May 27 and kept under a court-issued gag order until Tuesday.

Barkat praised Israel’s Shin Bet security service for thwarting the terror plot.

“The Shin Bet is among the best in the world,” Barkat said. “Throughout the investigation, I was updated and I knew that when the Shin Bet is in the picture and the Israel Police is on the ground, I can trust them and go to sleep with a calm mind and safely. During this period, I insisted on not changing anything in my daily routine because we cannot allow terrorism to dictate our schedule.”

Authorities said Rashdeh, who’d been collecting intelligence about his targets, received orders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Syria-based terrorist group under President Bashar al-Assad. He was a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem and had previously been jailed for terrorist activities.

By Susan McFarland