JERUSALEM – Israeli forces have arrested eight Palestinians (search), including four teenagers suspected of planning homicide bombings in Israel, security officials said Wednesday.
The suspects are affiliated with Fatah (search), the party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and were based in the West Bank city of Nablus, the officials said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the information. They said four of the suspects were under 18, including two who were 15.
One of the young men had already made a "martyr's video" explaining his actions, to be released after the attack, they said, and another admitted to interrogators that he was going to carry out a homicide attack. Homicide bombers often make such videos, used by militant groups to claim responsibility for the attacks.
The militant Lebanese Hezbollah (search) aided some of the of the men, the officials said. Israel and the United States accuse Hezbollah of funding Palestinian militants, but Hezbollah denies this.
In Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank and a hotbed of Palestinian militant activity, many groups operate with autonomy, even those loosely tied to Fatah.
Palestinian militant groups have often recruited youngsters to carry out attacks against Israel, taking advantage of their impressionability and hoping their age will allow them to slip through Israeli security checks when they are sent on homicide missions. Two 16-year-olds were the youngest Palestinians to carry out homicide attacks.
The attacks were to be carried out soon, the security officials said, without giving specific dates.
Following 41/2 years of bloodshed, violence has dropped significantly since Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared a truce on Feb. 8. However, Palestinian militant groups have threatened to end the cease-fire, over what they say are Israeli violations and a decision by the Palestinian leadership to postpone legislative elections.
Israeli security officials say that despite the truce, they have foiled dozens of planned Palestinian attacks, including homicide bombings.