Israel arrested three suspected Palestinian militants who allegedly planned an attack against the US embassy in Tel Aviv, as well as against a Jerusalem conference building and an intercity bus, the Shin Bet internal security service said Wednesday, dpa reported.
Two of the suspects are from East Jerusalem and one is from the area of Jenin on the northern West Bank, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The Shin Bet said an al-Qaeda activist in Gaza, named as Ariv al-Sham, recruited the three men separately to form three independent militant cells. It believes al-Sham received his orders directly from Egyptian al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Al-Sham communicated with the three via Skype and Facebook.
The US State Department has been in contact with Israeli authorities about the threats and is closely following the situation, spokeswoman Marie Harf said in Washington.
The US is working to independently corroborate the reports, she added. She could not provide specifics about the threat.
One of the East Jerusalem suspects, named as Khalil Abu Sara, 23, allegedly prepared for attacks, among others, against the US embassy in Tel Aviv and against a bus from Jerusalem to the nearby Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim.
He allegedly observed the highly secured embassy building on the Mediterranean City's coastal promenade.
As for the bus attack, the plan called for an attacker to shoot at its tires, then at passengers as soon as it stopped, and subsequently at Israeli security and rescuers as soon as they arrived at the scene, said the Shin Bet statement.
Abu Sara agreed to recruit foreigners to carry out the attacks. There were to come to Israel using fake Russian passports pretending to be tourists, alleged the statement.
Abu Sara would receive them, prepare bomb belts and transport the attackers to their destinations, it added.
The second East Jerusalem suspect allegedly admitted in his interrogation to planning the abduction of a soldier, while the third suspected agreed to form a Jihadist Salafi cell in the northern West Bank.