Israel’s Shin Bet domestic intelligence agency yesterday announced that it had thwarted a Hamas cell from carrying out large scale terror attacks in Jerusalem and from kidnapping Israelis.
Around 30 people were arrested during September, after the cell apparently attempted to carry out a double bombing near a West Bank settlement. The explosives failed to detonate but the incident alerted the Shin Bet which then uncovered bomb-making equipment and small arms while apprehending cell members.
The Shin Bet said that the first recruits came from Jordan in 2012 and that cell members were trained in Syria, Jordan and Gaza which they entered via tunnels from Egypt. They were then instructed to wait in the West Bank for further orders. Apparently the group planned to bomb Jerusalem’s Teddy football stadium and the city’s light railway system. They also planned to kidnap Israelis at home and abroad and carry out roadside and car bomb attacks.
The cell was coordinated by a de-facto Hamas command post in Turkey, headed by Saleh al-Arouri who was deported from the West Bank in 2010. Arouri is thought to have built a network of operatives and also coordinated another Hamas terror cell which the Shin Bet said in August it had foiled planning to attack Israelis and overthrow Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Shin Bet described the latest arrests as evidence of Hamas’ “indefatigable” determination to develop a West Bank terror infrastructure and provoke a sharp Israeli response. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Shin Bet’s activity and said it was just one of its’ many operations “against terrorists, against Hamas, which poses a threat to the existence of the nation state of the Jews.”
Also yesterday, a gunman in the Gaza Strip opened fire on an IDF border patrol for the first time since Operation Protective Edge this summer. The army vehicle sustained damage, but no injuries were reported. The IDF returned fire from the source of the shooting with no injuries reported.