Israel says it has smashed an Arab terror cell planning a wave of attacks. The suspects have pleaded not guilty to the charges, but the arrests are likely to add to the concerns of Israelis.
Security forces arrested seven Israeli Arabs who allegedly planned to carry out bombings and kidnappings against Jews. Police seized nine bombs ready for detonation and materials and instructions for making explosives.
The cell included five Arab citizens of northern Israel from 19 to 21 years old, and two minors. They were charged with terrorism, weapons possession, contacting Palestinian agents, and aiding and abetting the enemy.
Police Commander Avi Argarissi says cell members underwent intensive training in a forest near their villages.
"They built bombs and tested them, and practiced abducting soldiers and civilians," Argarissi told Israel Radio.
The cell was allegedly funded and supplied by militant Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Argarissi says the Israeli Arabs were motivated by Palestinian nationalism. They wanted to kill people, they wanted to instill fear and prevent further Jewish settlement in the State of Israel, he said.
The cell members have pleaded not guilty. But the arrests will likely add to concerns among Israeli Jews that the Arab minority is growing more militant. Israeli Arabs make up about 20 percent of the population, and while most are not involved in violence, they openly identify with their Palestinian brothers.
That is why the party of Israel's ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman did so well in recent elections. Lieberman accuses Israeli Arabs of disloyalty and that strikes a chord among many Israeli Jews.