update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

J’lem-based Hamas terrorist behind plot to kill Ben-Gvir gets 14-year jail term

Rashid Rashak, 24, has been in and out of jail for nearly a decade.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives for a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, May 14, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir arrives for a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, May 14, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The leader of a Hamas terrorist cell based in eastern Jerusalem that had plans to assassinate then-Israeli opposition lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir and carry out a series of other attacks against civilians was sentenced to 13 years and 10 months in prison, the Israeli Attorney General’s Office said on Tuesday.

Rashid Rashak, 24—whom authorities have described as a “prominent Hamas operative” and has been in and out of jail for about a decade—was arrested two years ago along with four other members of the cell.

In addition to their plan to murder Ben-Gvir, who now serves as Israel’s national security minister, they had concocted several other terror plots.

“Rashak planned with others to carry out attacks against Israelis in which the defendant and his accomplices would kidnap Israeli soldiers for the purpose of prisoner exchange transactions, carry out shooting attacks against the security forces, as well as kill a Knesset member about whose route they collected information,” the indictment read.

Israel’s Ynet news site had previously reported that Rashak’s cell had monitored Ben-Gvir’s home in Kiryat Arba, bordering the Judea city of Hebron, and logged the hours when he left, in particular by foot.

Rashak was said to have worked to obtain funds to purchase weapons and ammunition, as well as to recruit people, including to carry out a shooting or suicide bombing at the May 2023 Jerusalem Day parade.

“We welcome the sentence handed down by the court, which reflects the severity of the suspect’s actions,” a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said. According to prosecutors, the gravity of Rashak’s crimes became even more evident in light of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

“The court did well to express this in the sentencing. The prosecutor’s office will continue to fight terrorist offenses in general and the Hamas organization in particular,” added the spokesperson.

Israeli security forces have thwarted numerous terror attacks targeting Ben-Gvir since he took office as a minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which was formally sworn in on Dec. 29, 2022.

In March 2023, the Israel Police arrested an Arab who planned to steal police license plates and affix them to a vehicle to get close to Ben-Gvir. The suspect allegedly received money from terror groups to carry out the killing, which was to have taken place during a visit by the minister to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City during Ramadan.

Only six months later, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested five suspects who were allegedly recruited by Iran to murder Ben-Gvir and former Knesset member Yehudah Glick, both staunch advocates of Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

In April, Shin Bet agents foiled a plot to kill Ben-Gvir using a rocket-propelled grenade. According to authorities, the cell also planned to attack Ben-Gurion Airport, the government complex in Jerusalem, Israel Defense Forces bases, other sensitive sites and the town of Kiryat Arba.

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