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Israel charges Palestinian in U.S. embassy bomb plot

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian man was charged on Tuesday in connection with what Israel says was a plot to carry out a suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv discussed during contacts with a militant in Hamas Islamist ruled Gaza.

The charge sheet submitted to Jerusalem district court did not suggest any practical steps were taken to carry out an attack.

Iyad Abu Sahra, born in 1990, was charged with contact with a foreign agent and conspiracy to commit a crime, and also for supporting Hamas for having waved the group's flag at a protest last year at a Jerusalem holy site.

Last week, Israel said it has arrested two Palestinians it said were planning attacks for al Qaeda, including on the embassy.

The three-page indictment says there was "reasonable grounds" for Sahra to believe the Gaza man with whom he was in touch belonged to al Qaeda.

It said he agreed late last year to a suggestion by a man identified as the Hamas militant to carry out a suicide bombing, and that Sahra had suggested the possibilities of attacking the embassy, an Israeli convention centre in Jerusalem, and a shooting attack on a bus.

The alleged contacts between the suspect and the Gaza militant were limited to Facebook and Skype Internet calls between them, beginning in October 2013, the indictment said.

Hamas had rejected Israel's allegations last week as "silly fabrications" and an attempt to justify Israeli military strikes in the Palestinian territory.

Security experts have said that al Qaeda and its global agenda have had only a fringe appeal among Palestinians as they pursue a more nationalist conflict with Israel.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Alison Williams)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/140128/israel-charges-palestinian-us-embassy-bomb-plot