Israel said Wednesday it had thwarted a planned terrorist attack, arresting 10 Palestinians suspected of plotting an attack on a navy ship off the Gaza Strip coast.
The planned attack comes after a violent demonstration on the Gaza border over the weekend orchestrated by Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs the territory. Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians, 11 of them young male operatives in Hamas and other terrorist groups.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the country's security service for stopping the planned assault.
"This is proof of the true intentions of the terror groups in Gaza who are trying to hide their murderous plans by staging provocations along our border whose sole purpose is to provide cover for terrorists to carry out their attacks against Israel," he said.
The Associated Press reports:
The Shin Bet [Israel's domestic security service] said the interrogation of the cell's alleged leader revealed a plan to send a decoy boat from Gaza to distract the navy ship while another would fire a rocket at it. The plan called for militants to then try to abduct wounded sailors and keep them as bargaining chips for future prisoner swaps. Amin Jamaa was being indicted Wednesday at a court in southern Israel.
The Shin Bet identified him and his cohorts as members of the Islamic Jihad militant group and said they were abusing the easing of Israeli restrictions on Gaza fisherman to collect intelligence on Israel's naval operations along the coast.
Hamas, which has a charter goal calling for Israel's destruction, called the border violence the first of six weeks of planned confrontations with Israel leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Jewish state's founding in 1948.