An Israeli court on Thursday filed charges against five Palestinians from east Jerusalem accused of plotting deadly attacks on Israelis at a flashpoint religious site in the city, court documents said.
A statement by the Shin Bet domestic security service said they were among seven suspects arrested last month who planned to open fire at police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the heart of the Old City and who also had a separate scheme to kidnap and kill an Israeli civilian.
“Charges were filed today against members of the group… accusing them, among other things, of conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping, conspiracy to aid the enemy in time of war, contact with a foreign agent, arms possession… and obstruction of justice,” it said.
It said three of the accused picked up a Jewish hitchhiker with the intention of killing him and stealing his weapon but let him go when they found he did not have one.
Group leader Nur Hamdan had sought logistical help from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah movement, “to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” it said.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is referred to as the Temple Mount by Jews and Al-Haram al-Sharif by Muslims.
It houses the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque and is considered to be the third holiest site in Islam, while it is simultaneously venerated by Jews as the site where King Herod’s Temple stood before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.
Israel, which occupied Arab east Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it, claims both halves of the city to be its “eternal and undivided capital” in a move not been recognised by the international community.
The Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their promised state.