Israeli officials on Monday said they've learned that the senior Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip has instructed its operatives in the West Bank to carry out suicide attacks against Jewish targets, a number of media outlets reported on Monday.
The focal points of Hamas activity in the Palestinian territories are Nablus and Hebron, Israeli officials said.
As authorities struggle to grapple with the wave of Palestinian acts of violence in recent weeks, Israeli officials are convinced that Hamas will make every effort to execute a large-scale attack by using whatever means are available to its men in the field.
A Palestinian source told Israel Radio that the Palestinian Authority's security forces apprehended a group of Hamas men in Hebron who were planning a number of attacks.
According to the PA, the Hamas operatives were found to have in their possession large sums of money as well as explosives.
While it was unclear exactly how the men planned to carry out the attack, the Palestinian security forces said they had expressed their desire to die.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior figure in Hamas' political bureau, told an Islamist-affiliated web site in Gaza that he was hopeful the current violence would escalate into "an armed intifada."
The Hamas leader said that it was incumbent on the Palestinians to use firearms and more deadly means "since this is what the Israeli side is doing."
"Those who are coming out against an armed intifada are doing so out of personal interest and VIP status," he said, taking a veiled verbal swipe at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.