image Photo: IDF

ISA busts major Hamas network

Over 50 Hamas terrorists were arrested by Israeli security forces, who also seized munitions, weapons, IED components and cash to fund terror activities.

By Erin Viner

The Israeli Security Agency (ISA) has cleared for publication details surrounding the mission, which was carried out in cooperation with the IDF and the Israel Police.

According to a statement TV7 obtained from the ISA, which is also known as the Shin Bet, in recent weeks Israeli security forces dismantled “an extensive Hamas infrastructure that was directed by senior Hamas officials abroad and which operated throughout Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) in order to perpetrate various attacks – including on a large scale – in Judea and Samaria, and in Jerusalem.”

The ISA revealed that the activity was financed by senior Hamas officials under the direction of Hamas Deputy Chairman Saleh al-Arouri, who also heads the Gaza-based Islamist terror group’s ‘West Bank District.’ Arouri, who resides in Turkey, is one of the founders of the Hamas Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades military wing responsible for numerous deadly attacks on Israeli civilians.

Former Jerusalem resident Zacharia Najib was identified as “one of the principal figures in the effort to establish this terrorist infrastructure.” Najib was convicted for involvement in the abductors of late IDF soldier Nachson Wachsman and deported after being released in the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange deal with Hamas. He was also discovered to have conspired to assassinate prominent Israelis in 2019.

Also released and deported was Hamas “political bureau member” Musa Dudin of Yatir, Arouri’s “associate and right-hand man” whom the ISA said was “conspicuously involved” in “ongoing flow of funding for diversified terrorist operations.” Dudin was responsible for delivery of “terrorist money through Hamas emissaries in Judea and Samaria,” said the statement, for terror attacks and recruitment of operatives.

“Hundreds of thousands of shekels” confiscated by Israeli security services included a partial one million dollar payment offered by Arouri to senior Hamas member Hijazi Kawasmeh of Hebron to abduct Israelis.

Terrorists were recruited from various areas in the West Bank, notably Hebron, Jenin and Ramallah – the latter of which serves as home to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

One of Kawasmeh’s notable recruits was Hamza Zaharan, 40, of Bidu near Ramallah. With support from Ahmed and other family members, Zaharan used funding from abroad to acquire weaponry and prepare incendiary explosive devices (IEDs), which were also seized during the ISA operations. Ahmed Zaharan and two additional terrorists were killed in a gun battle with Israeli security forces during ISA operations against the Hamas infrastructure in Bidu on 26 September.

“Considerable ordnance” discovered during the mission included “sufficient explosive material to make three to four explosive belts,” said the ISA.

Senior figures in the production of explosives for future terror attacks were identified as Hamas members Muhammad Abu Al-Hassan of Burqin near Jenin, and Abdul Ani Khidur of Sira near Ramallah.

“This is an extensive and significant pre-emptive thwarting of a dangerous terrorist infrastructure, which had planned a series of attacks,” said a senior ISA official, stressing that, “The purpose of the intensified terrorist activity of Hamas operatives abroad and in Gaza, through operatives in the Judea and Samaria, is to undermine stability in the area, while exacting a heavy price from local residents.”

The statement stressed the commitment by the ISA to continue joint operations with the IDF and the Israel Police “to take resolute action against Hamas recruitment and the organization’s efforts to strengthen itself in Judea and Samaria” toward the thwarting of all terror activity against the Israeli public.