Four East Jerusalem Palestinian residents were indicted on Wednesday for planning a terrorist attack that was to take place in Jerusalem. A mass shooting attack at the popular Jerusalem Nof wedding hall was planned to occur during a wedding reception. The cell consisted of Anas Ouisat, Basel Abidat, Ahmed Sarur, and Amru Abado. The suspects, aged 19-21, were charged with conspiracy to aid an enemy in wartime.
Two of the four suspects planned on entering the wedding hall disguised as ultra-Orthodox Jews. Under their clothing, they were planning on smuggling in concealed weapons and then open fire on guests. The indictment stated that the suspects planned the attack based on nationalistic motivations and were attempting to coordinate their attack with another terrorist organization.
In December, three of the suspects went on a reconnaissance mission to the wedding hall to plan the best method and route of attack. They examined all entrances and exits to the building as well as the layout of the hall to determine their best course of action. The wedding hall was purposely picked as a target because the casualty rate would be extremely high. The hall usually hosts between 800 and 1,500 guests at every event.
According to the indictment, the suspects were to be supplied with arms by a Palestinian arms dealer in the West Bank. They were planning on purchasing two Uzi sub-machine guns for 50,000 NIS. The suspects were in the midst of a secretive fund raising effort to purchase more arms.
Gilad Pinchas, director of the wedding hall, told The Jerusalem Post, “Nof is a place of celebration, the indictment is a gift from G-d. Nof has top security conditions, and we will continue to consider security a top priority at our hall for all our events and all our guests.”
The news of the thwarted wedding hall attack comes on the heels of a report released by the Shin Bet that stated the rate of terrorism in Israel increased in 2013 and has begun a steady upward rise in 2014.