Palestinians dismiss Israeli claims on Hamas plot
Israeli authorities on Tuesday said they have detained 19 Palestinians for planning to set off a huge car bomb in Tel Aviv over the Jewish holiday of Passover, which ended on Monday.
The suspects are all were Hamas members from the West Bank city of Qalqiliya, the Shin Bet security agency said in a statement, cited by the AP. It said the arrests took place in late March.
Israel said a Palestinian man who apparently intended to blow himself up drove a car packed with 220 pounds of explosives into the Tel Aviv area, then, for reasons not yet clear, returned to Qalqiliya where the car later exploded through a technical malfunction.
However, Hamas officials in Qalqiliya dismissed the account and said they were not involved in any plot. Palestinian police officials in the town said the 19 suspects were not connected to any bombing. They said the detainees were rounded up at a Hamas ceremony marking the third anniversary of the Israeli assassination of the group's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Police said the car held less than 2 pounds of explosives and that it was unlikely Hamas was connected because the bomb was so small.