The IDF and the Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency, have arrested close to two dozen Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) operatives who were running a number of terror cells near Jerusalem and planning to kidnap soldiers and perpetrate other terror attacks against Israel, it was released for publication on Sunday.

Some of the operatives, the Shin Bet said, were Arabs from eastern Jerusalem in possession of Israeli identity cards enabling them to travel freely throughout the country.

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Over 20 suspects have been arrested in recent weeks, the Shin Bet said, including a number who have significant military experience and have been in Israeli prisons before.

One of the alleged leaders of the group was Nasser Abu- Khadir, a 50-year-old resident of the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem.

In 1981, Khadir was seriously injured when an explosive he was building blew up in his hands. In 1988, he was released from prison and continued to engage in anti-Israel terrorist activity, for which he was arrested a number of additional times over the years.

The Shin Bet said Khadir told his interrogators he was responsible for establishing the terrorist infrastructure based in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and was in touch with PFLP leadership in Damascus, which was supposed to provide financial and logistical assistance as well as overseas military training for Israel-based operatives.

Khadir allegedly instructed other members of the cells to purchase pistols and silencers, and surrendered a weapon that he had already obtained following his arrest.

Another senior operative was Walid Habas, 31, from Kfar Akab in northern Jerusalem.

Habas was released from an Israeli prison in 2007 after serving a four-year sentence for his involvement in the attempted lynching of an IDF soldier near Ramallah in 1998.

Habas allegedly recruited new operatives into PFLP ranks and worked with Khadir to purchase weaponry. The Shin Bet said he told interrogators he had discussed the possibility of training in Iran with Khadir.

A cell run by Habas was allegedly planning to kidnap an IDF soldier, a number of shooting attacks at soldiers and settlers in the Ramallah area and a bomb attack in Jerusalem. One target considered for the attack was a hotel near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

The cell, the Shin Bet said, was in the midst of working to obtain explosives as well as a cellphone that was to serve as the detonator. The cell members were also planning to murder a Palestinian they suspected of serving as a collaborator with Israeli security services.

Another operative, named Fares Barghouti, was in Israeli prisons between 2001 and 2005 and was released as part of an Israeli gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He was arrested a year later for involvement in the outlawed PFLP and was enlisted into the new terror cells in 2010.

Other cell members were responsible for locating apartments that could be used as headquarters for the cell and as a base for operations and for obtaining false Israeli identity cards that could be used to enter Israel.

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