Israel said on Thursday it had foiled plans by Islamist group Hamas to attack Israelis in Jerusalem’s largest soccer stadium, other parts of the city and the occupied West Bank, though Hamas said it had no information on the allegations. Israel’s Shin Bet security service said it had arrested 30 members of the group in September, some of whom had received weapons and explosives training from Hamas militants in Jordan and the Gaza Strip.
Planning for attacks against Israeli targets, including Jerusalem’s Teddy soccer stadium and the city’s light railway, was carried out by Hamas officials in Turkey, Shin Bet added in a statement. In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is dominant, a spokesman for the group said: “We have no information about these Israeli claims… It is clear Israel wanted to create a new story to divert the world’s attention away from the escalation in Jerusalem.”
Violence has surged in recent weeks in Jerusalem amid high tensions over access to a holy site in an Israeli-annexed part of the city where al-Aqsa mosque now stands and Biblical Jewish Temples once stood. Eleven Israelis have been killed, including four rabbis and a policeman stabbed and shot by Palestinians in a Jerusalem synagogue. Twelve Palestinians have also been killed, including several of those who carried out the attacks. Shots were fired at an Israeli army patrol vehicle along the Gaza border on Thursday, causing damage but no casualties, the military said in a statement. Israeli forces responded by firing a shell toward the source of the fire, the statement said. No casualties were reported on the Gaza side of the frontier.
On Sunday, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian near the border, the first such fatality since a 50-day Gaza war ended in August. The man’s family said he was searching for songbirds to sell in local markets. Israel has long designated areas near the frontier a no-go zone for Palestinians, citing concerns that militants could plant bombs or carry out surveillance of its patrols. Palestinians seek Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza — lands captured and occupied by Israel after the 1967 war — for their future state. Already troubled peace talks between the two sides broke down in April.