The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Tuesday announced that it had taken down a number of terrorist cells in the West Bank whose members had been recruited through Facebook by elite Hezbollah Unit 133 in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
It also has cracked down on efforts by Hezbollah to recruit Arab Israelis.
The arrests included a cell from Kalkilya in the West Bank that was ordered to carry out an attack on an IDF patrol.
The cell’s leader, Mustafa Kamel Hindi, 18, was recruited by a Hezbollah agent named Bilal through Facebook and was given instructions via email, according to the Shin Bet.
Hindi recruited four local Kalkilya men to serve in his cell, including: Muhammad Majad Muhammad Amin Doud, 22, a Hamas agent who helped with raising funds, Taher Muhammad Mahmud Nofal, 22, who provided bomb-making material, Islam Iyad Zahir Abu Sayed, 21, who performed surveillance on the IDF patrol and Bara’a Iyad Muhammad Sayid Hamad, 19, who helped with putting the bomb components together.
The cell was arrested in June before it was able to carry out a shooting attack on an IDF patrol for which its members had trained with target practice and mock bomb assembly.
The defendants have already been indicted in the Judea Military Court.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on Tuesday called on the Security Council to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
“Hezbollah, a proxy of Iran, has not ceased its active aggression against Israel and is endangering stability throughout the Middle East,” Danon wrote in a statement. “The terrorists must know that they will pay a heavy price for any aggression against our citizens.”
Danon also urged the international community to “condemn Hezbollah’s attempts to harm innocent Israeli civilians.”
A representative of the Malaysian mission, which currently presides over the Security Council, told The Jerusalem Post it has not received a formal request from Israel to designate the Lebanese group as a terrorist organization, and that the council will not act on Danon’s demand without a formal request, which they said should be filed to the security council’s counter-terrorism committee.
Although the UN has not as yet made such a designation, Hezbollah has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US Department of State since October 8, 1997.
According to the Shin Bet, which busted the cells together with the IDF and police, Hezbollah has been working diligently in recent years to recruit operatives in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets.
Hezbollah’s efforts, in part, seem to be designed to take some shots at Israel even though it is highly reluctant to instigate a direct and larger conflict.
Though not a first, the recruitment efforts were a major escalation, as the Shin Bet indicated that the organization has instructed operatives to carry out shooting and suicide attacks, as well as ordering them to recruit more members.
Separately, a Hezbollah operative in Gaza, Muhammad Paiz abu Jadian, recruited operatives to carry out suicide attacks in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said.
The operatives were also reached through Facebook and further instructions were delivered through secret email accounts.
Among those recruited by Jadian was Usama Noaf Sid Najim, 26, of Kabalan in the West Bank, who received money from Hezbollah and was ordered to recruit others and to carry out terrorist attacks, including a suicide attack on an Israeli bus.
Najim was connected with Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon to receive further instructions, and also was put in touch with Lui Tasar Ali Salama of Gaza to work with Yusef Muhammad Yusef Hajajara of Syria to form another cell in the West Bank to carry out attacks.
According to the Shin Bet he received $900 for his activities up until his March 17 arrest. He was detained and indicted before he could carry out any terrorist attacks.
Jadian also recruited Maamen Assam Abdulrahman Nasharti, 22, of the Jenin Refugee Camp, to carry out an attack on IDF soldiers near Jenin with an M-16. He was promised NIS 30,000 if he succeeded, but was arrested in May before he could carry it out.
Nasharti, who also has been indicted by the Judea Military Court, had a past history of violence, including throwing homemade explosives at security forces.
Another operative recruited by Jadian was Mustafa Ali Mahmud Basharat, 49, of Tamun-Dotan, a prior operative for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who was recruited by telephone and Facebook.
Basharat said he was ready to perform surveillance, carry out attacks and recruit for Hezbollah and bragged to Jadian of his 30 years of military experience. However, he was also arrested on June 2 and was indicted by the Judea Military Court.
Hezbollah also reached out to Arab Israelis in recent months through Facebook, according to the Shin Bet, through pro-Palestinian Facebook profiles. After an exchange of direct messages, the offer to join the ranks of the organization was made, the Shin Bet stated.
The agency did not list the names of the arrested Arab Israelis who have been warned to cease social media contact with Hezbollah. •