Eleven attempts by Palestinian security prisoners to orchestrate kidnappings of Israelis have been thwarted in recent months, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Sunday.
Since September 2013, the Shin Bet and the Israel Prison Service uncovered multiple kidnapping plots hatched by the security prisoners, who relied on help from Palestinians on the outside.
The plots targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians in order to trade the would-be captives for the release of convicted terrorists.
“Most of the plots that have been exposed or thwarted in recent months were pushed forward by prisoners, to facilitate their [own] release,” the Shin Bet said. Of those cases, half were plotted by Fatah prisoners, and the other half were thought-up by prisoners from Hamas and other Islamist Palestinian terror organizations.
The Shin Bet said several investigations are currently open against a number of suspects.
Last month, the Shin Bet announced that it had uncovered a plot by Palestinian prisoners to kidnap Israeli soldiers and use them as bargaining chips for the release of imprisoned terrorists.
The plot, orchestrated by Palestinian prisoners serving life sentences, targeted IDF soldiers in the areas of Huwara, Ariel and Yitzhar junction, the investigation found, and had it not been disrupted, the kidnappings would have occurred in April.
The plot was led by a Fatah terrorist, named by the Shin Bet as Abd Al-Rahman Athman, from the Palestinian village of Majdal Bani Fadal in the northern West Bank area.
Following his interrogation, the prisoner’s two brothers – Ahmed and Nazia Athman – as well as his brother in law, Nader Zin Adin, were arrested.
The investigation, which was joined by the Prisons Service and the police, then reached a second prisoner serving a life sentence, Atzam Zin Adin, who was Al-Rahman Athman’s partner in a deadly shooting attack in 2006 that killed an Israeli citizen.
Security forces said the investigation revealed how suspects began discussing a kidnapping plot in 2012.
They sought funding from another prisoner, who made contact with Hamas in Gaza, which agreed to pay for the attack. Additional prisoners, who were about to be released, were subsequently recruited to carry out the kidnapping.
In April, the Shin Bet and Israel Police arrested a Palestinian man in Israel illegally on suspicion of planning to kidnap an Israeli in the lower Galilee.
The suspect, named by the intelligence agency as Murad Hassan Ali-Hassin, a resident of the West Bank town of Kabatia near Jenin, confessed to plotting to kidnap an Israeli in the village of Avtalyon, in northern Israel.
The 25-year-old suspect, affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror organization, had been jailed in 2008 and 2009 after being convicted of plotting to stab a soldier at a checkpoint.
“He confessed during questioning by the Shin Bet to carrying out a number of attempted terror attacks in the Misgav Regional Council in April 2014, including an attempted kidnapping,” the intelligence agency said.
“On April 19, 2014, he attempted to enter a house in Avtalyon, near Karmiel, armed with a knife, in order to kidnap one of the home’s residents, for the purpose of negotiating the release of Palestinian [security] prisoners. The plot failed after he was chased away from the area by the home’s residents,” the Shin Bet said.
Shin Bet sources said last month that the investigation is the latest indication of the “big risk inherent in the illegal entry of Palestinians into Israel,” and stressed the need to close gaps in the West Bank security fence that allow the infiltrators in.