High alert for Yom Kippur; Afula suicide bombing foiled

24/09/2004 Security forces have raised their state of alert across the country in preparation for the Yom Kippur holiday, which begins at sundown Friday and lasts until Saturday night. Following a security briefing, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the closure on the territories to remain in place at least until after Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calender. Meanwhile, security forces said Thursday that they had foiled an attempted suicide bombing meant to have taken place in Afula on Tuesday. On Friday morning, Palestinian militants fired mortar shells at the Morag settlement in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. There were no injuries in the attack, the radio said. The Afula attack was thwarted when Shin Bet security service officials and police discovered more than 7 kilograms of explosives hidden in a sack of flour near the western Galilee village of Dir Hana. Security forces arrested four Palestinians suspected of planning the attack, including the intended suicide bomber, a 15-year-old boy from the West Bank. The attack was planned jointly by a Fatah and Islamic Jihad cell from the West Bank village of Yamun, near Jenin. Zaal Abhara, 31, from Yamun, was arrested by police and Shin Bet agents after being caught without a residence permit in Dir Hana, where he lived and worked illegally. He said his brother Warad Abhara, who is wanted by the authorities, gave him the sack of flour in which security forces discovered the explosives. In light of the information, security forces operating in Ramallah arrested two additional suspects from Yamun who were said to have helped transport the suicide bomber from the village to the Rantis checkpoint. The intended bomber, who had received from his dispatchers a cellular telephone and NIS 1,000 to cover his expenses, was also arrested. Investigators discovered that the sack of flour was smuggled into Israel via a car belonging to a relative of Abhara. Though a resident of the territories, the relative lived inside the Green Line thanks to a family reunification permit. Israel Radio reported that Abhara paid NIS 2,000 to an accomplice in transferring the explosives into Israel. The two men entered Israel-proper from Yamun south to Jerusalem, and eventually made their way to the village of Mrar, in the Galilee. The Shin Bet says that the terrorists were forced to travel all the way from Jenin to Ramallah in order to circumvent the separation fence. BPI-info