Israeli authorities announced that they dismantled a cell of the Iran-backed terrorist group, Hezbollah, which was operating in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem under the direction of Jawad Nasrallah, son of the terrorist group’s leader, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The ringleader of the cell was identified as Mahmoud Zaaloul, 32, who had been recruited by Nasrallah through social media. Zaaloul served time in an Israeli prison from 2001 to 2005. According to security officials, he enlisted four other Palestinian men to carry out attacks. The cell received instructions to gather intelligence on Israeli forces, plan for attacks that included suicide bombings, and received $5,000 from Hezbollah. Two of its members had acquired weapons.
Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, said that it was “unusual” for a terrorist plot to have advanced so far before being detected and foiled. “The Hezbollah organization is trying to ride the terror wave that has taken over Israel in recent months and is acting feverishly to inflame passions on the ground,” the agency said in a statement.
The men have been charged with “membership in an illegal organization, receiving funds from an enemy and conspiracy to commit a lethal crime.”
Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah and Jawad’s father, promised retaliation against Israel for the death of Samir Kuntar, a notorious terrorist and high-ranking Hezbollah operative who was killed in an airstrike in Damascus last month.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Nasrallah in August that the nuclear deal provided them with a “historic opportunity” to threaten Israel. In September, reports surfaced that Iran backed up Zarif’s words by boosting its funding of Hezbollah, as well as Hamas, in anticipation of the windfall it would be receiving due to sanctions relief.
An August report in Defense News assessed that Hezbollah had amassed a rocket arsenal capable of hitting targets all across Israel.
[Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90 ]