Israel’s Shin Bet security agency on Thursday announced the arrest of a seven-man Hamas cell in the West Bank, which was planning to kidnap an Israeli soldier in order to negotiate the release of a convicted terrorist.
The arrests were made in the Hebron area and included three brothers — Fadi Ibrahim Ranimat, Muhammad Ranimat, and Shadi Ibrahim Ranimat, who was apparently the leader of the cell. The brothers focused their plans, which also included shooting attacks, on kidnapping a soldier in order to secure the release of their father, who is currently serving a life sentence in Israel. Ibrahaim Abdallah Ranimat, 58, orchestrated the kidnapping and murder of IDF soldier Sharon Edri in 1996, as well as a suicide bombing attack on a Tel Aviv cafe in 1997, which claimed the lives of three women and wounded 48 others.
According to the Shin Bet, the cell had been observing IDF movements near Tzurif in order to plan an abduction. During the arrests, Israeli forces uncovered large quantities of ammunition and weapons, including two Kalashnikov rifles, two M-16 assault rifles, and three pistols.
Cleared for release: in joint operation, Israeli forces arrested Hebron-based Hamas operatives planning shooting attacks & kidnappings. pic.twitter.com/7MlCUFMZsY
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) December 8, 2016
In addition to the three brothers, two Palestinian men were arrested for supplying and storing the weapons and another was apprehended for plotting kidnappings while imprisoned with Ranimat.
“The uncovering of the infrastructure reveals the high motivation of Hamas militants, both in the field and in prison, to carry out severe attacks including shootings and abductions,” a Shin Bet statement said.
The Hebron area is considered to be a Hamas stronghold and has been a focal point for violent Palestinian attacks since October last year, which have killed at least 42 people. Israeli security forces have disrupted a number of Hamas cells operating in the West Bank during the past year.
In addition, in March, the Palestinian Authority security forces arrested another Hamas cell in Hebron, which was planning attacks on Israelis.
Earlier this week, the Shin Bet announced that it had arrested a cell of four Palestinians, including three minors, who had perpetrated four shooting attacks in the West Bank.