by Nikki Guttman, Shlomo Cesana, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Gaza-based terrorist group planned to sink an Israeli Navy ship and abduct survivors or bodies, says Shin Bet security agency
An Israel Navy boat intercepts the Gazan boat
Screenshot: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Israeli security forces recently thwarted an Islamic Jihad plot to attack an Israeli Navy vessel and abduct sailors, the Shin Bet security agency revealed Wednesday.
Islamic Jihad operative Amin Saadi Muhammad Jumma, 24, from Rafah in the Gaza Strip, and nine other men were arrested on March 12, when the Navy's 916th Patrol Squadron stopped their boat after it left the designated Gaza fishing zone on what is believed to be a reconnaissance mission for Islamic Jihad.
The investigation revealed that Jumma had been ordered by his superiors to gather intelligence ahead of a coordinated attack in which Islamic Jihad planned to fire a missile at an Israeli Navy vessel, sink it and abduct the survivors or bodies.
The attack was planned as part of Islamic Jihad's retaliation against the IDF over the Oct. 30 destruction of a terror tunnel near the Israel-Gaza Strip border, in which seven operatives were killed.
According to information released by the Shin Bet, Islamic Jihad planned to use three boats to lure a navy ship, fire a Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missile at it, and abduct the survivors or, if there were no survivors, their bodies, with the aim of using them as leverage in a future prisoner exchange with Israel.
Jumma told interrogators that the first boat was supposed to breach the designated fishing zone so as to have an Israeli ship approach it. The second boat would have then fired a missile at the naval vessel, and the third boat would have arrived on the scene to carry out the abductions, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
"In order to prepare for the attack, Jumma conducted a number of surveillance missions on navy ships and gathered intelligence about their locations and routes, the number of soldiers on them and the types of weaponry on board," the agency said.
The Southern District Attorney's Office said Jumma would be arraigned at the Beersheba District Court on Wednesday.
The prosecution said Jumma was involved in extensive terrorist activities, including several instances when he smuggled weapons and explosives from Egypt into Gaza.
In 2013, he allegedly teamed with his brother to smuggle 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of explosives into Gaza, and in 2015 he was paid $6,000 to help smuggle large quantities of fiberglass into Gaza for weapon production, the indictment said.
"Once again, we have proved that terrorist organizations are exploiting the relief Israel wishes to afford civilians in Gaza by easing restrictions on fishing, in order to promote terrorist attacks, in a manner that harms the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
"Security forces will continue to spare no effort, on land, in the air and at sea, to thwart terrorist plots," the Shin Bet's statement said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman lauded the operation, saying, "The IDF and Shin Bet have once again prevented a terrorist attack against our troops. The challenges on the Gaza border are varied and complex but the Israeli public have someone they can count on."
Nikki Guttman, Shlomo Cesana, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
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