West Bank Terror Growth Risks Peace Process Complications

Israel’s Shin Bet security service appears to have confirmed that Israeli officials captured three Al Qaeda-linked Palestinian terrorists plotting a mass-casualty terrorist attack against the American embassy in Israel.

Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) lifted a gag order Wednesday and announced it has arrested three terrorists, Iad Abu Sara (24) and Rubin Abu Nijma (30) of Jerusalem and Ala Anam (22) of Jenin. Sara carries an Israeli identity card. They were recruited and directed by Al Qaeda terrorists in Gaza and were under the direction of Arebe A-Shaham.

The Jerusalem Post carried extensive details of the plot, and described the goal as one of carrying out “massive bombings.” Three Gaza-based operatives were allegedly recruited and directed via Internet platforms, including Skype and Facebook. The terrorists’ targets appear to have included – in addition to the American embassy – a major bus line and the Jerusalem Convention Center. There also appear to have been plans to launch coordinated attacks, which would have included targeting first responders as they arrived on the scene.

Hamas has reached an understanding with these elements, according to which, they must not directly harm Hamas by provoking an Israeli response against the Islamist rulers of the Strip, but are otherwise free to act as they please. There have been no recent arrests by Hamas of Salafi jihadis in Gaza. Rather, Hamas engages with these groups by deploying its own forces to rocket launching grounds to prevent attacks on Israel, and through dialogue with the al-Qaida-affiliated elements.

The news comes shortly after revelations that the Shin Bet arrested a separate terrorist cell in the West Bank directed by the Palestinian Hamas faction. Evidence of steadily increasing West Bank terror infrastructure is likely to have diplomatic consequences, and to strengthen Israeli arguments that a robust Israeli security presence is required in sensitive areas of the territory in the context of a comprehensive peace agreement.

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