Security forces announced on Wednesday the foiling of a suicide bombing and shooting cell based in Tulkarm in the West Bank that was under the command of Hezbollah, and which was set up by the son of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Five Palestinians are in custody on suspicion of joining the Hezbollah terrorist cell, and they were close to carrying out attacks, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said.
Juad Nasrallah used an online social media network to recruit Mahmoud Za’alul, a resident of Tulkarm, the Shin Bet said.
Za’alul, 32, acting on Hezbollah instructions received from his handler, a man named only as “Fadi,” set up an email account through which he received directions on how to recruit more terrorists, gather field intelligence and select targets, the agency said.
The cell was instructed to use encrypted communications to receive instructions on how to carry out suicide bombings, assemble bomb vests, gather intelligence, and set up training camps, the Shin Bet said.
Additionally, members of the cell were ordered to gather intelligence on security personnel operating in the area.
The terrorists allegedly asked Hezbollah for assistance in getting weapons and funds to carry out attacks.
“Hezbollah sent $5,000 from abroad to advance the terrorist plot,” the Shin Bet said.
Two members of the cell, Muhammad Masarwa and Ahmed Abu El-Az, both born in 1996, purchased a firearm from Za’alul and were arrested before being able to proceed with a shooting attack on the IDF, the agency added.
Za’alul, the alleged field commander of the cell, spent time in Israeli prison between 2001 and 2005 for security offenses, while another member of the cell, Rabah Lavadi, 28, from Tulkarm, spent 2002- 2007 and 2008-2011 behind bars for security offenses.
The fifth suspect, Muhammad Wahid Za’alul, was also born in 1996.
“This is another attempt by Hezbollah to carry out an attack in Israel, which has been thwarted by the Shin Bet and the IDF,” the security service said.
They added that Hezbollah’s Unit 133, which is responsible for overseeing the Lebanese movement’s attacks against Israel, has in recent years tried to set up terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, without success. The latest investigation uncovered “a most unusual incident in which a terrorist cell, orchestrated by Hezbollah, was ready to act,” the Shin Bet said.
“Hezbollah is trying to ride the terrorism wave that is striking Israel, and is working intensively” to foster violence in the area “by contributing to the growing incitement, and by exploiting the Palestinian population, luring youths to carry out attacks under its instructions and with its funds,” it added.
Hezbollah “is carrying out remote recruitment and activation of terrorist cells, while using the Internet covertly in order to carry out terrorist activities from abroad, keeping a low profile as it does so,” the Shin Bet said.
The five suspects have been indicted in the Judea Military Court and charged with membership in an illegal organization, contact with the enemy, bringing enemy funds into the area, conspiracy to cause deliberate death, trafficking in combat equipment, conspiring to shoot at people, and disrupting the course of legal proceedings.