Hamas in Gaza has increased efforts to set up terrorist cells in the West Bank, and ordered new recruits to create and fire rockets at Israel from the West Bank, to kidnap and kill a soldier, and prepare suicide bombings, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Wednesday.

On the surface, the fourmonth truce between Israel and Hamas appears to be holding well since the cessation of last year’s eight day conflict, but behind the scenes, senior Hamas officials in Gaza are increasing their efforts to carry out deadly attacks on Israelis, the Shin Bet added.

The intelligence came partly from the questioning of security suspects who have been arrested days before planning to act, the domestic security agency said.

It named Hamas interior minister in Gaza, Fathi Hammad, as a figure behind many of the efforts to carry out atrocities. Hammad has often called out for the continuation of terror attacks in Israel.

“To that end, Hammad is activating his associates, Hamas members, who work on his behalf, and through the ‘Defenders of Al Aqsa’ group, which was set up by him,” the Shin Bet added.

In recent days, Hamas members from the West Bank revealed details on new recruits who were in touch with Hammad’s associates.

The terror cell was made up of residents of the villages of Ras Karkar and Siluad, in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.

They were recruited to plant an explosive, kidnap a soldier or settler, and manufacture and launch rockets.

The new recruits maintained communications with their handlers in Gaza through emails and cell phones. They were trained in how to create weapons, and recruit additional members to their cells.

The terrorists “received concrete instructions to kidnap a soldier, take his ID and cell phone for negotiations, and then kill and bury him at a hideout,” the report said.

Prior to their arrest, the terrorists sent a message to Gaza saying they were ready to act within days. The arrest prevented impending terror attacks, the Shin Bet added.

“The activities of Hammad – one of the senior leaders of Hamas in Gaza, and an interior minister who is obligated to maintain quiet – is a gross violation of the ceasefire agreement. This also illustrates the extent of the involvement by senior Hamas members in setting up terror attacks against targets in the West Bank and Israel, despite their commitments to Egypt to uphold a truce,” the Shin Bet said.

In February 2008, months before the launch of Operation Cast Lead, with thousands of Palestinian rockets raining down on Israel, Hammad told Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV: “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen (holy fighters) and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death like you desire life.’

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