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News UpdatesFri., September 24, 2004 Tishrei 9, 5765Israel Time:  06:28  (GMT+3)
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Last Update: 24/09/2004 06:28
Heightened alert set for Yom Kippur; Afula attack thwarted
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

Security forces have raised their state of alert all across the country in preparation for the Yom Kippur holiday.

Following a security briefing, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the closure on the territories to remain in place at least until after Yom Kippur.

Security forces released for publication that they had foiled an attempted suicide bombing on Tuesday. The attack was said to be carried out in Afula.

The Shin Bet and the police discovered more than seven kilograms of explosives, hidden in a sack of flour near the western Galilee village of Dir Hana, that was meant to be used in the attack.

Security forces arrested four Palestinians suspected of planning the attack, including the intended suicide bomber, a 15-year-old boy from the West Bank.

The attack was planned jointly by a Fatah and Islamic Jihad cell from the West Bank village of Yamun, near Jenin.

Zaal Abhara, 31, from Yamun, was arrested by police and Shin Bet agents after being caught without a residence permit in Dir Hana, where he lived and worked illegally. He said his brother Warad Abhara, who is wanted by the authorities, gave him the sack of flour in which security forces discovered the explosives.

In light of the information, security forces operating in Ramallah arrested two additional suspects from Yamun who were said to have helped transport the suicide bomber from Yamun to the Rantis checkpoint by passing through Ramallah.

The intended bomber, whose dispatchers had provided him with a cellular telephone and NIS 1,000 to cover his expenses, was also arrested.

Investigators discovered that the sack of flour was smuggled into Israel via a car belonging to a relative of Abhara. Though a resident of the territories, the relative lived inside the Green Line thanks to a family reunification permit.

Israel Radio reported that Abhara paid NIS 2,000 to an accomplice in transferring the explosives into Israel. The two men entered Israel-proper from Yamun south to Jerusalem, and eventually made their way to the village of Mrar, in the Galilee.

The Shin Bet says that the terrorists were forced to travel all the way from Jenin to Ramallah in order to circumvent the separation fence.

Worshippers like this ultra-Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem preparing for the 'Kaparot' ritual on Thursday can expect extra security at synagogues across the country. (AP)
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