From Left to Right: Ahmed Shahada, Qassai Masawada and Muhammad Zaro, the alleged ISIS terror cell arrested by Shin Bet .
(photo credit: Courtesy Shin Bet)
The Palestinian Authority has denied Israeli claims that cells affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS) have been active in the West Bank.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed last month that the Judea Military Court on December 18 indicted three members of a Hebron Islamic State cell for plotting a range of terrorist attacks. The three suspects planned to murder an IDF soldier and use his weapon and uniform to carry out a shooting attack, the Shin Bet said.
In a press conference on Monday, PA security forces spokesman Adnan Dameiri staunchly denied the existence of ISIS-affiliated cells.
"We are obviously adamant not to have ISIS or umbrellas for them in Palestine. Those who have been trying to create the ISIS phenomenon are Israel and Hamas given that the Muslim Brotherhood movement is the incubator which created al-Qaida, ISIS, the Nusra Front and other Jihadist and Takfiri organizations," the Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency quoted Dameiri as saying.
Dameiri claimed that the PA had successfully fought off the infighting and religious extremism plaguing the rest of the region.
The PA spokesman said that many suspects had been interrogated by Palestinian security forces for suspected affiliation with ISIS, but that they had all eventually been set free after proving their innocence.
"The Israeli occupation is interested in creating chaos in Palestine … to tell the world that the Palestinians do not deserve to have a state. Thus, tranquility and stability will embarrass the Israeli occupation," Ma'an quoted Dameiri as saying.
The Israeli defense establishment assesses that Salafi jihadism remains a marginal force in the West Bank, but one that could grow in scope and danger if it exploits a power vacuum. The ideology of the Islamic State is gaining traction in some quarters in the Palestinian territories, but has not yet become a significant presence.Yaakov Lappin and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.