- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

TEL AVIV Israel arrested five members of a Hamas terrorist cell suspected to have relied on Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to plan some of the deadliest attacks on civilians in recent months, including the July bombing of a Hebrew University cafeteria that killed nine persons, including five U.S. citizens.
The 15-member cell is believed to have carried out eight attacks that killed 35 persons, including a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem cafe in March that killed 11 Israelis and a suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv suburb that left 15 dead, officials said.
Israeli officials said the Hebrew University bombing was carried out by Muhammad Ouda, who worked at the university as a painter. Mr. Ouda, a 29-year-old resident of the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, was able to smuggle the explosive into the campus by scaling a perimeter fence at night, Israeli television said.
He is believed to have planted the bomb the next day in the cafeteria at the Frank Sinatra International Students Center.
After his arrest, Mr. Ouda told investigators he was sorry for what he had done because so many people died in the attack, the Associated Press quoted officials as saying.
Khaled Ouda, his brother, told Israel's public television station that he would have tried to intervene if he knew of the plans. "It was a surprise. Nothing like that ever entered my mind."
The other East Jerusalem-cell suspects arrested Saturday night while supposedly planning another attack were identified as Wael Kassem, 30, the leader; Wassem Abasi, 25; and Ala Abasi, 30.
The fifth man arrested was Mohammed Hassan Arman, 27, from the West Bank village of Harbata who is said to have provided explosives to the cell.
Israel also accused the group of devising attacks aimed at sensitive infrastructure that would cause dozens of deaths. The arrested men were assigned responsibility for two separate bombings of fuel tanker trucks in which one person was injured, and two bombings of railroad lines that injured five.
"Hamas has sought to practice unrestrained terror while targeting strategic sites within Israel," a government statement said. "The emphasis was to perpetrate unprecedented damage against Israeli infrastructure."
It is the first time that Palestinians from East Jerusalem have been accused of initiating strikes for militant groups based in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the 23 months of Palestinian-Israeli violence, Arabs who live in neighborhoods annexed by Israel after 1967 have played virtually no role in the hostilities.
The more than 200,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem carry Israeli identity cards, enjoy the same rights as other citizens and are employed throughout the country.
That access is believed to have enabled Hamas militants based in Ramallah to pick targets with lax security and identify the weaknesses of well-guarded Israeli locations that had never been hit before.
The revelation spurred calls by Israeli right-wing politicians for the government to adopt more discriminatory measures against Arab citizens.
"We need to stop the connection between Israel and West Bank via motor vehicle," said Deputy Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra. "We shouldn't let Israeli cars driven by Arabs exit to [the West Bank]. That's where they get the bombs."

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