Palestinian Terror Group Threatens Attacks on Jewish Holy Day

Terror org has ties to Mahmoud Abbas

A Palestinian man waves national flag during a protest against Israel's operations in Gaza Strip / AP
• September 12, 2013 12:20 pm


A terror group tied to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s political party is threatening to launch a series of attack on Israel starting Friday, according to a statement released by the group.

The al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades (AAMB), an armed militant group tied to Abbas’ Fatah party, said in a statement released earlier this week that Friday would mark "a green light to start guerrilla operations against the brutal Israeli occupation," according to a copy of the group’s purported statement posted on one of its websites.

Friday marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Jewish faith’s holiest day.

The terror group has "called on all units and sleeper cells to prepare for a confrontation with the Israeli occupation," according to a report in Lebanon’s Al Manar news and other Arabic outlets in the region.

The threat comes as U.S.-orchestrated peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians languish while the world turns its attention to the crisis in Syria.

The Palestinian militant group threatened to attack Israelis living in the West Bank and claimed that settlers have overrun the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

"We are all witnessing the invasion by herds of settlers to the compound and (they) harm the worshippers without any intervention from the international community," the statement says, according to Al Manar.

Other "commando operations" are also slated to begin, according to the U.S.-designated terror group, which has vowed to drive all Israelis and Jewish people out of the West Bank.

The AAMB is notorious for engaging in suicide bombings, which have claimed the lives of both Israelis and Americans living in the Jewish state.

However, U.S. officials with knowledge of the group said that the group’s capabilities have been degraded over the past months.

"The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade has taken some lumps recently and, although not down and out, its rhetoric may outstrip its capabilities," one official said.

Israeli security forces consistently target group like the AAMB, thwarting weapons deliveries and arresting the group’s members.

The terror group’s call for violence might have been issued in response to a recent uptick in Israeli-Palestinian confrontations.

Israeli soldiers clashed with Palestinians in Nablus on Thursday after the soldiers were struck with rocks and firebombs, according to the Ma’an News Agency.

A Palestinian man was shot and inured on Thursday by Israeli soldiers after a "large and violent" riot broke out in the West Bank.

Israeli security personnel detained another five Palestinians on Thursday, according to Ma’an.

While the AAMB may have limited capabilities, it is believed that the group can still launch rockets into Israel and order its members to carry out other attacks.

"Al-Aqsa members are operationally more active in the Gaza Strip but also plan and conduct attacks inside Israel and the West Bank," according to a 2013 report by the National Counterterrorism Center.

The AAMB has been largely dormant since the second Palestinian intifada mostly ended in 2005. The group's revival could greatly complicate the peace process.

"The idea that it could be revived is troubling because of the fact that Mahmoud Abbas" has claimed he is dedicated to the peace process, said Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department.

"This would generate consequences for Mahmoud Abbas's policy of nonviolence when he is currently pursuing peace, and for that reason I find these reports somewhat difficult to digest," Schanzer said.

It is possible that elements of the AAMB has been taken over by Iran, which has had loose ties to the terror group in the past.

The latest terror threat could be a sort of "freelancing" among some AAMB members who are "working with outside individuals," Schanzer said.