March 7, 2021

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26-Apr-18: Terrorist who was intercepted trying to bomb the Jerusalem Light Rail is convicted

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Jerusalem Light Rail (illustrative)

A little-reported terrorist attack on Jerusalem’s mass-transit Light Rail two summers ago resulted in a conviction in Jerusalem District Court today. (There’s very little coverage, at least so far, in any news channels of today’s conviction.)

A Palestinian Arab student from Beit Ila, was stopped on July 15, 2016 while equipped with three pipe bombs, explosives and knives, en route to carry out  a so-called revenge attack on commuters.

Ali Abu Hassan, 20 years old, was convicted today of attempted murder. According to Times of Israel, the court found that the accused “planned to carry out a mass terror attack”.

He had approached the city via the Arab community of Tsur Baher on Jerusalem’s south side, intending to wreak “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount”. The three pipe bombs in his possession were tied together to form a single large and powerful explosive that, as an added feature, was covered with nails and screws that had been dipped in rat poison. He had two knives and a cellphone in his bag.

A Ynet report published on August 2, 2016 shortly after his arrest was revealed adds additional details. He was a civil engineering student at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron. He made and tested the bombs himself, setting off explosives in open areas in and Hebron. Evidently appreciating the risk to his own life, he left a will at the university before setting out to commit the planned murders:

On July 17, near 9am, Abu Hassan arrived at the Jaffa Center stop, where he was observing passersby. It was then that he was spotted by a vigilant security guard who asked Abu Hassan to open his bag for inspection. The terrorist ignored the request, which led the security guard to restrain him by force while another guard took the bag.

The Jerusalem Post reported at about the same time that

during Ramadan in the summer of 2016, after seeing news websites and Facebook posts showing Jews entering the Temple Mount complex, he made up his mind to attack, kill Jews and become a martyr. According to a joint police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation, Abu Hassan entered Israeli territory the day before the attempted attack through nearby Wadi Sur Bahir, and then changed his clothes into sportswear “to blend into the population,” police said. “The next day, during the early morning, he prayed in a mosque nearby, boarded a bus in Talpiot reaching the city center, and began to walk along the railway tracks on Jaffa Road until reaching the intersection of Jaffa and King George streets,” police said. “When he arrived at the light rail stop at Jaffa station, he began to explore the surroundings in order to find a place for the attack.” The joint investigation determined that Abu Hassan then observed the station from a nearby restaurant, and decided to target it after seeing many people boarding and exiting the train. Noting the suspect’s suspicious behavior, security guards stationed nearby questioned him and discovered he had three pipe bombs in his bag. They immediately placed him under arrest, and cleared the area of civilians… The light rail was shut down for over an hour, until the bombs were neutralized and the area cleared.

We owe great gratitude to the constant vigilence of Israel’s security personnel.

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