JERUSALEM – Even though the terror group Islamic Jihad took responsibility for last week’s suicide bombing at an Israeli checkpoint, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was involved in the attack, which was intended to kill Israeli civilians during Hanukkah celebrations, sources close to the group told WND.
A suicide bomber Thursday blew himself up, killing an Israeli soldier after the taxi he was riding in was stopped at a makeshift checkpoint. The bomber was attempting to infiltrate Israel to carry out a large-scale attack at Hanukah celebrations, likely in Tel Aviv, Israeli officials told reporters.
Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the blast and threatened to send more suicide bombers.
But Palestinian security officials and sources close to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declared military wing of Abbas’ Fatah party, say the Al Aqsa group was involved in preparing the suicide belt.
“Al Aqsa openly assists Islamic Jihad. They wanted to be involved in the preparing of the suicide belt for the honor of taking part in a martyrdom operation,” a senior Palestinian source said.
Israel the past few weeks has been blaming Islamic Jihad for carrying out recent rocket attacks from Gaza into nearby Jewish towns.
“Islamic Jihad is absolutely not acting alone,” the senior Palestinian security source said. “Al Aqsa fires the rockets and so does the Popular Resistance Committees.”
Israel says Islamic Jihad is directly backed by Syria and Iran. It has been working with the international community to isolate both countries.
The blaming of Al Aqsa could compel the Israeli Defense Forces to retaliate against the Fatah-connected group, which Palestinian officials say would impact their parliamentary elections, scheduled for later this month. Fatah candidates, including some accused of involvement in terrorism, are competing against Hamas in most ballots. Israel is under intense pressure not to interfere in the elections.
Any Al Aqsa involvement in Thursday’s attack would be a significant embarrassment for Abbas, who has pledged to fight terrorism and disarm the various Palestinian terror groups.
Abu Carmel, a West Bank Al Aqsa leader, told WND last month: “We coordinate and collaborate [with Islamic Jihad] very often. It is true that we have excellent relations with our brothers in the Islamic Jihad. We felicitate our brothers in their heroic attacks, and we promise not to leave them alone in the campaign that Israel is leading against them.”