JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli authorities said Wednesday they have arrested 10 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip accused of planning a missile attack and hostage taking against a navy ship.
The announcement of the March 12 arrests comes ahead of expected new mass protests along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel on Friday.
Authorities did not immediately respond to a question on why the announcement was delayed for more than three weeks, though Israel often keeps such arrests under a gag order while it investigates.
Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service announced the arrests in a statement, saying the 10 Palestinians from the city of Rafah in southern Gaza were on a boat outside a designated fishing zone off the blockaded enclave.
It alleged one of those arrested, fisherman Amin Juma, 24, has been involved in “terrorist activities” for militant group Islamic Jihad.
According to the statement, Islamic Jihad assigned him to gather information to prepare for an attack using a Kornet missile against an Israeli naval vessel.
It said the plan was to fire on an Israeli vessel and take hostages that could be used in a prisoner exchange.
Juma was expected to be formally charged later Wednesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement called the arrests “proof of the real intentions of terrorist organisations in Gaza”.