Middle East
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Tension between Israel and Iran is in the red: Shin Bet foiled Iranian plot to assassinate Minister Ben Gvir; Spy thriller in the West Bank

On 27 September, the Israeli security agency Shin Bet announced that it had thwarted an Iranian-backed cell that attempted to carry out attacks, including against far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and former Likud lawmaker Yehudah Glick.

In a statement, Shin Bet said that three West Bank Palestinians were arrested, 47-year-old Murad Kamamja from Kafr Dan, 34-year-old Hassan Mujarima from Jenin and 45-year-old Ziad Sadi, also from Jenin. Two Arab Israelis, Hamad Hamadi, a 23-year-old resident of Nazareth, and Yousef Hamad, an 18-year-old resident of Mukible, were also arrested, according to the security service.

Prosecutors submitted indictments against the five suspects to the Military Court and the Haifa District Court, charging them with contacting a foreign agent, arson and aiding infiltrators.

The Shin Bet and Haifa prosecutors said that an Iranian intelligence agent based in Jordan instructed Kamamja and Mujarima to smuggle weapons and organize attacks in Israel, including plans to torch cars and gas stations and break the windows of businesses. They were told to ensure that the acts were recorded on video.

The two suspects were also tasked with gathering security information on Ben Gwire and Glick, apparently to attack them. Shin Bet noted that due to the security details of the two men, the suspects were unsuccessful.

According to Shin Bet, Kamamja and Mujarima recruited Sadi, who later recruited the two Arab Israelis. The two continued to set at least four cars on fire on Ha'Ari Street in Haifa on June 21.

Sadi offered Hamad NIS 1,000 [$259] for each car belonging to a Jew that he set on fire, Shin Bet said, adding that Hamad was also asked in August to smuggle phones into Israeli prisons and to smuggle people from Lebanon to Israel in exchange for payment, but he refused.

Hamadi, also acting on Sadi's orders, checked locations along the Israel-Jordan border that were most suitable for smuggling infiltrators into Israel, the security service said.

Sadi reportedly admitted during interrogation after the arrest that he was aware of Tehran's support for the cell and financial backing for such activities.

"The investigation reveals the nature of Iran's methods of using Israeli citizens, including individuals with criminal backgrounds, and recruiting them to promote terrorist activities on criminal operations platforms in exchange for financial payment," Shin Bet said in its statement.

Commenting on the news, Ben Gvir praised Shin Bet for foiling the alleged plot and promised that it "will continue to act fearlessly and with determination to bring about a fundamental change in the conditions of imprisonment of terrorists in prison, to continue the fight against terrorism, to safeguard the rights of prayer and Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount, and to ensure the security and peace of Israeli citizens."

Iran and Israel have been engaged in a decades-long shadow war across the Middle East and beyond. Last July, Defense Minister Joav Galland revealed that Israel and its allies foiled more than 50 Iranian plots to carry out attacks against Israeli targets. The new alleged plot will certainly increase tensions between the two regional powers.

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