A Palestinian terrorist from the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, sent on behalf of Hamas to establish a military wing in the West Bank to abduct soldiers, was arrested by security forces on December 12 after infiltrating into Israel from the Sinai.
Details released by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Tuesday revealed that Shadi Samir Halawa, 25, confessed to being involved in a series of terror attacks against Israeli targets carried out by Islamic Jihad and Hamas in recent years.
Ever since the IDF left the Gaza Strip, there has been a significant increase in attempts by terrorists to smuggle potential suicide bombers, weapons and explosives into Israel from Sinai. After gaining entry to Egypt from the Gaza Strip, terrorists seek out the assistance of Egyptian operatives, who for a sum of money guide them to crossing points into the Negev. Thus far security forces have succeeded in thwarting all known attempts.
Recruited in 2002 by Islamic Jihad, Halawa admitted to recruiting the suicide bomber who blew up at the Magen 12 IDF outpost near the Erez terminal in July 2003, killing four soldiers. At the time, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed joint responsibility for the attack.
In 2004, Halawa joined the ranks of Hamas, and up until last year was a prominent participator in antitank rocket and bomb attacks directed at IDF troops deployed in the Gaza Strip as well as mortar shell, Kassam rocket and shooting attacks at settlements there.
Halawa confessed that, a month before the IDF pullout from Gaza, he was involved in the planning of a combined shooting and bomb attack against IDF troops posted at the Erez terminal. He said he planned the attack with Yosef Abu Salem, a member of the Islamic Jihad. The attack was thwarted after troops discovered the bomb.
Halawa said that a month before he set out for the Sinai he met with Mahmoud Shambari, who persuaded him to travel to the West Bank and set up a terror cell that would focus on abducting soldiers to secure the release of Hamas-affiliated security prisoners incarcerated in Israel. Shambari promised to transfer Halawa the necessary funds once he reached the West Bank.
Halawa said that his plans to enter Egypt in the days after the IDF pullout were thwarted after he spotted a large Egyptian troop presence in the area. At the time, the Rafah border crossing was a free-for-all passage used by thousands to enter Egypt from Gaza unchecked and terrorists to smuggle weapons and explosives into Gaza. Returning to Gaza, he immediately began planning his next attempt to enter Israel.
In order to evade detection, Halawa applied to the PA authorities for a permit to travel to Egypt on the pretext that he required medical treatment. After he received the permit, he crossed into Egypt via the Rafah border crossing. Once there, he contacted an Egyptian who for the payment of $1000 agreed to smuggle him into Israel. He was caught along with others by security forces near Mount Sagi in the Negev.
Meanwhile, IDF artillery units shelled northern Gaza areas on Tuesday evening after Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket that landed in the western Negev. No one was wounded and no damage was reported. On Monday, two Kassam rockets were fired at the western Negev, and both exploded in open areas.
In the West Bank, an undercover Border Police unit arrested Imad Kamal, a top Islamic Jihad commander, at his home in Kabatiya south of Jenin. Soldiers also confiscated a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition clip found in Kamal's possession. He was handed over to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for questioning.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, security forces arrested a Hamas fugitive in Bili'in west of Ramallah and another Hamas fugitive in Kibya northwest of Ramallah.