JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israelis enjoyed the four-day Rosh Hashanah holiday weekend, many flocking to national parks and beaches for family outings. But for those choosing an outing in a popular open mall in Jerusalem, it could have been otherwise.
A Hamas terror cell planned to bomb the Mamilla Mall, frequented by Israeli Jews and Arabs as well as tourists.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) foiled the would-be bombers, thwarting what could have been another horrific terror attack in the capital.
Two cell members -- 23-year-old Ahmad Rishak from Shuafat and 27-year-old Ismail Abu Mfalfal from Abu Dis -- were recruited in March because they both carry Israeli identity cards. That gave them total access to anywhere in the country. They have already been indicted.
The cell's mastermind, Hamdi Romana, 22, is a resident of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority government. Romana had an explosives lab and manuals for manufacturing bombs at his house. Among the materials confiscated from his residence were iron pellets to pack inside the bomb to cause as much injury and carnage as possible -- a practice commonly used by Islamists.
According to the Shin Bet, Romana provided the names of three Ramallah residents who helped him acquire bomb-making materials.
"During questioning, members of the terror cell mentioned other initial plans to carry out additional attacks, including harming IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers by booby-trapping homes in Ramallah, manufacturing and firing rockets at Israeli communities near Ramallah and attempting to get hold of handguns to fire on soldiers at the Hizma roadblock northeast of Jerusalem," the Shin Bet reported.
Israel's enemies have often planned attacks during the Jewish holidays, a stunning example being the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Israeli security is always boosted during holidays.