A major Hamas terror cell, which was based in the West Bank city of Nablus and was planning bombing attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, was broken up in April, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, announced Sunday.
The cell was reported to be experienced in various terrorist activities, including the manufacturing of explosives and improvised explosive devices (IED).
More than 20 suspects comprising the cell were arrested in April. The group had been organized in October 2017 and from interrogations, the Shin Bet learned that they were intending to carry out attacks in Israel and the West Bank.
Among the plots announced were a bombing attack in Tel Aviv, a suicide attack in Jerusalem, a bombing in Itamar, and a shooting attack in Samaria.
The breaking up of the ring was credited with preventing these attacks, some of which were described to have been “at the last minute.”
Among the explosives recovered by the Shin Bet included a 10 kilogram (22 pounds) explosive device that was to be detonated by a cell phone, and a separate 15 kilogram (33 pounds) explosive device. The agency also recovered bomb making materials, instructions for making bombs, and other weapons.
The ringleaders were identified as Mutassem Nuhammad Salem, 35, and Fares Kamil Zavidi, 33, both residents of Nablus. The two recruited the others to assist in the planning of the attacks, as well as preparing the explosives.
An unidentified Shin Bet official said, “This case again shows the desire and efforts that Hamas is investing in building terrorist infrastructures in Judea and Samaria in order to carry out severe attacks in Israel. This case also indicates Hamas’ desire to carry out attacks against Israeli targets while undermining the current relative quiet. Severe attacks and loss of life have been prevented. We, along with our partners in the IDF and Israel Police, will continue to take determined action to thwart Hamas’s murderous intentions.”
The ISA, the IDF and the Israel Police have thwarted a Hamas terrorist cell that sought to carry out horrific attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, from Nablus in Judea and Samaria. pic.twitter.com/LswVqrwitS
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) June 17, 2018
In a statement following the Shin Bet announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Hamas is trying to attack us from both Gaza, and Judea and Samaria. This is why we will continue to maintain security control of all areas west of the Jordan River.”
The kidnapping and killing of three teens, Gil-Ad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrah in 2014 was seen by some analysts as a sign that Hamas was seeking to extend its military power across the West Bank. Subsequently, Israeli security forces have broken up a number of Hamas cells in the West Bank, including one in Nablus in December 2016. The members of that cell were said to be planning suicide bombings and shooting attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa.
The Shin Bet in January 2016 announced the arrests of two Hamas terror cells with members who lived in Jerusalem. One of the cells was plotting to assassinate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while the other was in the “advanced planning stages” of a kidnap/murder plot.
[Photo: Noticias de Israel / YouTube ]