Gazans celebrate the 27th anniversary of Hamas' founding.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in a joint operation with the IDF and the Israel Police has in recent months uncovered a Hamas terror network operating in and around Nablus in the northern West Bank, the agency said in a press release on Wednesday.
According to the Shin Bet, they also uncovered an armed Hamas cell from the Jenin area which was planning terror attacks and had acquired binoculars and night vision equipment to use in a future attack.
Altogether around 40 suspects have been arrested in the operation, including senior Hamas members and former security prisoners.
The head of the cell was named by the Shin bet as Ranem Tufik Tzalah Salameh, 49, a senior Hamas official in Nablus. They also arrested Ahmed Tufik Yusef Tzalhah, 42, who they said was responsible for communication with Hamas officials abroad.
The suspects also include six men who were each placed in charge of Hamas operations in separate villages outside Nablus.
The Shin Bet said that under questioning, the suspects revealed that Hamas has been working to kick-start their operations in the northern West Bank through the founding of a central command center in Nablus, and has appointed a series of local chiefs in nearby villages with a clearly defined breakdown of labor and hierarchy. The cell also worked on issues in Nablus and the surrounding villages involving education, charity, legal disputes, research, and provided economic assistance to the families of Hamas prisoners jailed in Israel.
The Shin Bet also said that the cell took orders from and was in direct contact with Husam Badran, a Hamas spokesman and official based in Qatar. Badran also sent money transfers totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the press release said.
The money was transferred by way of gold and jewelry that was purchased in Jordan and then smuggled into the West Bank, with the assistance of a gold merchant from Nablus whose store in the city is used to launder money for Hamas, according to the Shin Bet.
The Shin Bet said in their statement on Wednesday that the arrests show “once again the many means the Hamas leadership in the [Palestinian] territories and abroad use to build a wide, well-funded infrastructure capable of carrying out independent actions in Samaria, in the fields of social work, culture, education, intelligence, recruitment, and charity. All of this is done in order to strengthen the organization’s hold on the area and to prepare the ground when the time comes to carry out terror attacks.”