image Photo: Flash90

ISA arrests West Bank Hamas cell

Seven Hamas terrorists were apprehended for conspiring to attack on the instruction from the Islamist rulers of Gaza, revealed the Israeli Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet).

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

The ISA disclosed the arrests yesterday, which it said took place over the course of this month.

According to the statement, all of the terror cell members lived in the Palestinian cities of Hebron and Nablus. Investigation revealed the had been recruited by Gaza resident Yahya Amar Mahmoud Abu Saifan, 26, who belongs to the Hamas military wing.

During interrogation the suspects admitted that they had learned how to produce explosive devices and execute terrorist attacks against Israelis from Abu Saifan. Materials necessary to manufacture the bombs, as well as firearms, were confiscated from various hideouts throughout the West Bank. The illegal contraband is believed to have been purchased with funds received from a Hamas contact from Gaza.

“These arrests and investigations reveal, once again, the efforts of Hamas operatives from the Gaza Strip and abroad to destabilize the West Bank and incite for violence by recruiting Palestinian operatives to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets,” asserted the ISA, while pledging that, “The Shin Bet security agency, along with its partners in the Israeli security system, will continue to act to thwart attempts by Hamas elements in the Gaza Strip to promote terrorist activity against the State of Israel.”

The majority of the cell members have already been indicted by the military court on serious security offenses, and additional indictments will be filed in the future, added the Shin Bet.

Meanwhile as part of Operation Waves Breaker aimed at rooting-out terror elements in the West Bank, eight additional suspected terrorists were successfully apprehended in overnight counter-terrorism raids by the ISA,  Top of Form

IDFIsrael Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) and police forces have repeatedly come under attack during nightly raids while carrying out ongoing counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria as part of the operation, launched in response to the wake of a deadly surge of attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people between March and May 2022.

Over 2,000 wanted Palestinian terror suspects have been captured and hundreds of weapons confiscated in thousands of counterterrorism operations by Israeli security forces over the past four months.

Over the weekend, joint Israeli counter-terror ops netted 39 terror suspects. Several weapons-smugglers were captured and dozens of small arms were confiscated. No injuries were reported among the Israeli troops during several exchanges of fire with Palestinian gunmen.

ISA Director Ronen Bar emphasized concern over the surge of violence during an address to the annual conference of the Institute for Counter Terrorism at Reichmann University last week, which he blamed on inadequate efforts by the Palestinian Authority (PA) that has forced the Israeli defense establishment to assume the role of enforcer.

Violence in Judea and Samaria is on the rise. We find ourselves in a type of ‘closed cycle.’ Amid a growing array of terror blocs and the absent of an adequate response by the (Palestinian Security) organizations, in light of limited rule, our men are forced to enter (into the territories for) arrests and preventative activities, nightly. The absorb fire and in-fact create a blanket of security for Israeli citizens in the heart of the land,” said the Shin Bet head, adding that, “The price includes Palestinian casualties and the weakening posture of the (Palestinian Security) organizations. We counted this year over 130 shooting incidents. This, compared to 98 (shooting incidents) during all of 2021, and 19 (shooting incidents) during 2020. This is only one example for the lack of governance, the extent of (illegal) arms and the difficulty in effectiveness of the (Palestinian) security organizations. In contrast, we foiled 312 significant terror attacks, which include stabbing, shooting, suicide (bombings), ramming (Attacks). We conducted over 2,000 arrests and we elevated in tens of percentages the scope of arrests of arms smugglers.”

Going on to stress the importance of bolstering governance by the PA – despite its reluctance to act, Director Bar said, “The main answer for the purpose of calming the territory includes boosting the activity of the Palestinian security organizations. The Palestinian public is also keen on this – yet, for this tango, two are needed.”

In an apparent move to step up operational activities following criticism by Israeli and United States defense officials for not doing enough to rein in terrorism, PA security forces raided several locations in the territories over the past 24 hours.

In overnight violence, clashes erupted in the hotbed terrorist cities of Nablus and Jenin, including the firing of weapons at PA headquarters at the latter location.

This morning a senior member of the Islamist Hamas organization was reportedly apprehended by the Western-funded Palestinian forces in Nablus. Local residents reacted to the arrest by hurling rocks and “other” objects at armored vehicles operated by the PA security teams. Another terrorist was reportedly killed during subsequent clashes that erupted between Palestinian gunmen and the security troops.

While the PA did not release immediate comment, its bitter Palestinian rival was quick to condemn the lates cycle of violence.

“The Palestinian Authority has positioned itself as an exclusive agent of the (Israeli) occupation against our Palestinian people,” claimed Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.