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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Shin Bet: TA bomber intended to attack French Embassy

The Palestinian suicide bomber who killed three people in an attack at Carmel Market in Tel Aviv last week had intended to attack the nearby French Embassy, the Shin Bet security service announced yesterday.
An attack on the American Consulate in Jerusalem was also considered.

Bassam Hundkaji, one of two Nablus members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine arrested by the Shin Bet in connection with the attack, is suspected of leading the suicide bomber, 16-year-old Amar Al-Faar of the Askar refugee camp, from the West Bank across the Green Line into Israel.

Hundkaji's entry into Israel was eased by a journalist's identification card he had obtained through his studies at A-Najah University in Nablus.

Hundkaji told Shin Bet investigators that a day before the attack, he visited Jerusalem and practiced moving around the city without alerting the suspicions of Israeli security forces.

Enlisting the help of an Arab taxi driver from eastern Jerusalem, Bashar Abasi, he also examined other possible targets. Hundkaji and Abasi were joined by the driver's brother, Jamal, who was arrested by Israeli security forces earlier in the week.

To reach Jerusalem, Hundkaji left Nablus on foot and skirted the Israel Defense Forces checkpoint at the city's southern exit. He took taxis to Qalandiyah and Abu Dis without passing any roadblocks, and then took a bus to the Old City's Damascus Gate area and went from there to western Jerusalem.

On his return home to Nablus the day prior to the attack, Hundkaji passed through a checkpoint in the Tapuah area of the West Bank, but did not rouse the suspicions of soldiers stationed there.

The decision to carry out the attack in Tel Aviv was apparently made at the last minute, the Shin Bet investigation revealed.

On the morning of the attack, Al-Faar left his Nablus home, traveled to the Jerusalem area and from there continued on to Tel Aviv.