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Israel says Hamas plot to assassinate Lieberman foiled

The suspects are currently in custody of a West Bank court
Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem on 7 November (AFP)

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service said Thursday that security forces had caught a Hamas group in the West Bank planning to assassinate far-right foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

It said three suspects in custody "collected advance intelligence on the minister's convoy," on its journeys - to and from his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim - and sought to procure an RPG launcher with which to target his vehicle.

A Shin Bet statement said that Ibrahim al-Zir, Ziad al-Zir and Adnas Tzabih, all from the West Bank village of Harmala, south of Bethlehem, were arrested in operations by the agency, the army and the police. The statement did not specify when the arrests happened.

It said that during Israel's July-August war in Gaza al-Zir "began to formulate a plan to carry out an attack on the motorcade of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, with the intention that the attack would send a message to Israel and bring a stop to the war in Gaza."   

It said that "in recent days" the suspects were charged in a West Bank military court with conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to smuggle in weapons.

Reports from the Israeli daily Haaretz however point to four Palestinians being arrested - all of whom lived near the Nokdim settlement also south of Bethlehem - over the plans.

The Israeli security services said that the plot showed Hamas was increasing its presence and activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Hamas is yet to respond to the allegations but they come at a time when relations with its partner in the Palestinian unity government, the Palestinian Authority, are fractured.

They also come at a time of increased tensions with four Israeli Rabbis killed in an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday morning. Two Palestinian attacker were shot dead at the scene.