Security personnel arrested a Hamas terror cell in the West Bank that plotted to manufacture and fire rockets, and kidnap and kill a soldier, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said on Wednesday.

The arrests, carried out by the Shin Bet and the IDF, took place in January and February, and disrupted plans by the cell to plant explosives, the Shin Bet said.

It named a central suspect as Ahmed Fahida, a 26-year-old attorney from Ras Karkar, 11 km. northwest of Ramallah, as the head of the cell, and a contact man for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Several others are also under arrest.

“During questioning, it emerged that Fahida was recruited to Izzadin Kassam [Hamas’s armed wing] by Ahmed Uda, a Hamas member in Gaza,” the Shin Bet said.

Fahida was ordered to kidnap a soldier, steal his ID and cellphone to be used for negotiations with Israel, and then kill and bury his victim.

Fahida and an accomplice began preparing to carry out their attacks, gathering weapons and materials to build rockets, according to the investigation.

Contact between Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank recruits occurred via email and phone, and instructions were passed on how to create explosives and recruit additional members. The suspects also considered obtaining an encryption program to store their computer files, security forces said.

Days before the arrests, Fahida informed his handlers in Gaza that the cell members were ready to begin the attacks.

The suspects were charged in the Judea Military Court in March.

The arrests are part of an ongoing effort by security forces to thwart Hamas terrorism in the West Bank that is being directed from the Gaza Strip.

In March, the Shin Bet announced the arrest of another Hamas cell in the West Bank that had been ordered to build and fire rockets at Israel, kidnap and murder a soldier, and carry out suicide bombings.

The cell had been set up by Gaza’s interior minister, Fathi Hammad, the Shin Bet said.

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