The Shin Bet, Israel’s security intelligence service, announced today that it had broken up a Hamas-linked terror cell in the West Bank, The Times of Israel reported. The group was reportedly in the planning stages of a major terror attack. Though the arrests have been made over the past few months, an official announcement came today, during a recent increase in terror attacks that have claimed the lives of two young men, one of whom was buried today.
The terror group was run by a Hamas operative in Qatar, and consisted of about 40 members concentrated around the city of Nablus. During the arrests, the Shin Bet found around four million shekels in cash and gold, which the group had been selling to fund its operations.
The Shin Bet said the Nablus cells were run from Qatar, by Hussam Badran, a Hamas spokesperson and a native of Nablus.
Budran, operating under Saleh al-Arouri, the Turkey-based head of Hamas operations in the West Bank, sent messages to the operatives in Nablus via “email channels,” the Shin Bet said, apparently referring to non-direct messages, and laundered the money into gold jewelry transported into the West Bank from Jordan.
Anan Fatuah and Samih Aliwi, West Bank shop-owners, allegedly received cash from a Nablus couple that had traveled to Jordan for medical care but were, in fact, a forward unit of Hamas. The couple, Bassam and Mona Sayih, allegedly transferred the funds to Fatuah, who bought gold in Jordan and sold it along with Aliwi in their shop, funneling the money to Hamas operatives.
Last year, Badran threatened to organize terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank. Israel later foiled a Hamas attempt to overthrow the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank.
25-year-old Malachy Moshe Rosenfeld died on Tuesday night from injuries sustained in a terrorist attack the previous day. Rosenfeld and three of his friends were leaving a basketball game when a Palestinian assailant near the West Bank community of Shvut Rachel ambushed them.
IDF soldiers have been deployed to the West Bank, where they have established multiple checkpoints and inspected vehicles, according to officials. IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said it wasn’t clear if the attack was carried out by an independent individual or group, or was the work of a larger organization.
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