Israel Says It Foiled Iranian Plot to Target, Spy on Senior Israeli Politicians

10 November 2022, Israel, Jerusalem: Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Israeli far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, speaks during a memorial ceremony for late controversial Rabbi Meir Kahane. (dpa)
10 November 2022, Israel, Jerusalem: Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Israeli far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, speaks during a memorial ceremony for late controversial Rabbi Meir Kahane. (dpa)
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Israel Says It Foiled Iranian Plot to Target, Spy on Senior Israeli Politicians

10 November 2022, Israel, Jerusalem: Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Israeli far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, speaks during a memorial ceremony for late controversial Rabbi Meir Kahane. (dpa)
10 November 2022, Israel, Jerusalem: Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the Israeli far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, speaks during a memorial ceremony for late controversial Rabbi Meir Kahane. (dpa)

Israel arrested five Palestinians in a plot allegedly hatched in Iran to target and spy on senior Israeli politicians, including Israel's far-right national security minister, the country’s internal security agency said Wednesday.

The Shin Bet security service alleged that an Iranian security official living in neighboring Jordan had recruited three Palestinian men in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and another two Palestinian citizens of Israel to gather intelligence about several high-profile Israeli politicians.

The targets included National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — a firebrand Israeli settler leader who oversees the country's police force in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ultranationalist government — as well as Yehuda Glick, an American-born far-right Israeli activist and former member of parliament.

The plan was foiled by Israeli intelligence officials, the Shin Bet said, without offering evidence.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.

Ben-Gvir, who draws inspiration from a racist rabbi, has provoked outrage across the wider Middle East for his particularly hard-line policies against the Palestinians, anti-Arab rhetoric and stunts and frequent public visits to the holiest and most contested site in the Holy Land. The hilltop compound in Jerusalem, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is at the emotional center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Glick is a leader in a campaign that pushes for increased Jewish access and prayer rights at the sacred Jerusalem compound, the holiest site in Judaism home to ancient biblical Temples. Today, the compound houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Since Israel captured the site in 1967, Jews have been allowed to visit but not pray there. Glick survived a 2014 Palestinian assassination attempt.

The Shin Bet did not elaborate on the identity of the Iranian official in Jordan who allegedly orchestrated the plot. He is not in custody and apparently remains at large.

But the Shin Bet accused three Palestinian men in the West Bank — identified as 47-year old Murad Kamamaja, 34-year-old Hassan Mujarimah and 45-year-old Ziad Shanti — of gathering intelligence and smuggling weapons into Israel. The security service also said that it charged two Palestinian citizens of Israel over their involvement in the plot. It did not specify how the men planned to target Ben-Gvir and the other politicians.

Ben-Gvir claimed that the Palestinian suspects had conspired to “assassinate a minister in Israel,” without clarifying whether he meant himself or another minister. He thanked Israeli security forces for uncovering and capturing what he called the “terrorist squad.”

Ben-Gvir, who has pushed for harsher treatment for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, also vowed to double down on his hard-line policies in response to the revelations. “I will continue to act fearlessly and even more vigorously for a fundamental change in the conditions of the terrorists’ imprisonment,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Israel has considered Iran to be its greatest enemy since it became a theocracy during the 1979 revolution. Iran is a main patron of Lebanon's Hezbollah armed group, which Israel considers the most potent military threat on its borders, and also backs Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.



Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
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Israel Pounds Central Gaza Camps, Deepens Invasion of Rafah

A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS
A view of a damaged building, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at the Rafah Crossing, Gaza, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video released on June 19, 2024. Doron Kadosh, Glz/via REUTERS

Israeli forces pounded areas in the central Gaza Strip overnight, killing three people and wounding dozens of others, according to medics, while tanks deepened their invasion into Rafah in the south, residents said.
Israeli planes struck a house in Al-Nuseirat camp, killing two people and wounding 12 others, while tanks shelled areas in Al-Maghazi and Al-Bureij camps, wounding many other people, health officials said, according to Reuters. Nuseirat, Maghazi, and Bureij are three of Gaza's eight historic refugee camps.
In Deir al-Balah, a city packed with displaced people in the central Gaza Strip, an Israeli airstrike killed one Palestinian and wounded several others on Thursday, medics said.
The Israeli military said on Wednesday forces were continuing their operations across the enclave targeting militants and military infrastructure in what it described as "precise, intelligence-based" activities.
More than eight months into the war in Gaza, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to storm: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the center. The operations have forced more than a million people to flee since May, the vast majority already displaced from other parts of the enclave.
In Rafah, near the border with Egypt, Israeli tanks stationed deep in the western and central areas of the city stepped up bombardment, forcing more families living in the far coastal areas to flee northward. Some residents said the pace of the raid has been accelerated in the past two days.
"The tanks took control of most of the areas in Rafah. People living by the beach have also started to leave toward Khan Younis and central areas in fear because of the continued bombardment," said Abu Wasim, a resident from Rafah's Al-Shaboura neighborhood, who quit his home over a week ago before tanks rolled in reaching the heart of the city.
Rafah housed over half of Gaza's 2.3 million people until May 7 when Israeli forces began the ground offensive into the city. Fewer than 100,000 are now believed to be left behind.
There has been no sign of let-up in the fighting as efforts by international mediators, backed by the United States, have failed to persuade Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire.
The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said fighters battled Israeli forces with anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs, and have in some areas detonated pre-planted explosive devices against army units.
On Thursday, Israeli authorities freed 33 Palestinians who had been detained during the past months by Israeli forces in different areas of the enclave. The freed detainees were admitted into Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip after they complained of torture and mistreatment by Israeli jailers.