Israeli police on Tuesday afternoon revealed details of an attempted attack on Jerusalem’s light rail that was foiled by security forces two weeks ago.
The suspect, 21-year-old Ali Abu-Hasan who is a Palestinian student of civil engineering in Hebron, infiltrated into Israeli-controlled territory with pipe bombs and a knife. Abu-Hasan intended to carry out the attack on July 17 in what he claimed would be response to visits by Jews and non-Muslim tourists to the Temple Mount complex, venerated by Muslims as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The details of the foiled attack had been under a gag order so as to prevent any interference in the investigation, which was carried out in collaboration with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). The details were published after the investigation was completed.
Abu-Hasan revealed under questioning that he had entered Israeli-controlled territory two days before his arrest by crossing through an olive grove near the Arab neighborhoods of Sur Baher and Jabel Mukaber in Jerusalem. He then changed his clothes and shaved his beard, leaving a goatee so as to blend in with the Israeli population.
The police said that the suspect prayed at a nearby mosque on the morning of July 17 and boarded a bus heading to Jaffa Street, a major Jerusalem street in the city’s center along which runs the light-rail train.
According to the investigation, Abu-Hasan decided that the light-rail would be the best target for a terror attack, since it is frequently crowded with pedestrians. Security guards noticed and became immediately suspicious of Abu-Hasan as he stood near the light-rail stop with his backpack, which contained the pipe bombs and explosives.
The light-rail security guards closed off the area and called in police bomb technicians to investigate Abu-Hasan’s backpack. They discovered three pipe-bombs tied together and dipped in rat poison with nails and screws glued onto them. Two knives and a mobile phone were also discovered in Abu-Hasan’s backpack.
Abu-Hasan claimed that he acted alone without organizational help and that he had been planning the attack for a long time. He purchased the equipment and materials needed to assemble the pipe bombs and learned about how to make them as well as to how to maximize their potential impact. He also tested the pipe bombs several times by detonating them.
Before heading to Jerusalem, the terrorist left a will in the hands of his friends at his university in Hebron, asking them to give it to his parents.
Abu-Hasan was arraigned on Tuesday at the Jerusalem Magistrates Court and has been charged with attempted murder, weapons manufacturing, and conspiracy to commit a crime. The court extended his remand until August 5.