World Bulletin/News Desk
Israel has arrested four Palestinians suspected of planning to assassinate Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with an anti-tank rocket while he drove to his Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, Israeli officials say.
The alleged Hamas plot was hatched during the July-August war in Gaza. Its disclosure comes as ties fray between Israel and U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank, over Al-Aqsa.
A statement issued by Israel's Shin Bet security agency late on Thursday identified three of the detainees as Hamas members and, citing their confessions under interrogation, said they had hoped that killing Lieberman "would relay a message to the State of Israel that would bring about an end to the Gaza war".
"We have no information about this issue. However, we stress that leaders of the Occupation (Israel) who are responsible for the killing of children and women and for defiling the sacred sites are legitimate targets for the resistance," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
The Shin Bet said the suspects had been indicted by an Israeli military court but did not note whether they had entered a plea in response to the charges.
The four Palestinians live near Nokdim settlement, where Lieberman has a home. They had carried out surveillance on the far-right diplomat's convoy and tried to obtain a rocket-propelled grenade with which to attack it, the Shin Bet said.
The Shin Bet described the alleged assassination plot as a sign that Hamas, which Abbas's forces had suppressed in the West Bank after a 2007 Palestinian civil war, was stepping up its activities in the territory and adjoining East Jerusalem.
Israel's talks with Abbas on founding a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem broke down in April and it has accused him of inciting violence since. This is disputed, however, by security officials - among them U.S. observers - who credit Abbas's forces with curbing many West Bank threats.Last Mod: 21 Kasım 2014, 11:29