The Shin Bet recently broke up a Hamas cell that plotted shootings on Israeli targets around Hebron.
(photo credit: SHIN BET)
The Shin Bet recently broke up a Hamas cell that plotted shooting attacks on Israeli targets around Hebron, the agency said on Sunday.
It was the third disruption of Hamas terrorist plots in recent weeks.
A joint operation with the IDF led to the arrest in November 2015 of the three-man Hamas cell based in Hebron, whose members planned to fire on Israeli traffic on Route 35 near the West Bank city, the agency said.
Operatives allegedly purchased an M-16 rifle and a handgun. The cell was allegedly headed by Muhammad Ali Kawasme, 38, who recruited its other members. Kawasme’s brother Hassam Ali Kawasme orchestrated the kidnap and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, in June 2014.
In the recently disrupted shooting plot, Muhammad Ali Kawasme was joined by Imad Hashamun, 32, who had served time in prison for past Hamas activities, and two additional Hamas members named by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) as Amar Awiwi, 29, and Hasam Hashalmun, 24.
During questioning by the Shin Bet, it emerged that the suspects drove along Route 35 on a number of occasions to locate the best place to fire at Israeli vehicles, and purchased firearms during their preparations.
Kawasme also “recruited logistical assistants to the cell, who were supposed to acquire a stolen vehicle, to be used in the attack, and assist the cell’s members after the attack, when they would become wanted men by the security forces,” the Shin Bet said.
Military prosecutors charged the three at the Judea Military Court with conspiring to cause deliberate death, and membership in a terrorist cell on behalf of Hamas. The suspects have been ordered kept in custody until the end of legal proceedings.
“The thwarting of this terrorist cell, which had a high level of readiness to carry out an attack, exposes, once again, the unending attempts by Hamas members in Hebron to carry out severe acts of terrorism,” the Shin Bet said.
In another recent anti-terrorism operation, the agency announced last week that it had thwarted a Hamas plot to kidnap and murder Israelis to trade their bodies for Palestinian prisoners. Residents of Hebron and Jerusalem residents were arrested on December 15 in a joint Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police operation. The six suspects allegedly planned to copy the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers.
And at the end of December, the Shin Bet announced it had broken a large-scale Hamas terrorist cell that was based in Abu Dis, just outside Jerusalem, which plotted bombings and suicide bombing attacks in Israel. Had the attacks not been thwarted, they would have led to mass casualty incidents and plunged the region into a security escalation, the agency warned.
Security forces, including the IDF and the Israel Police, arrested 25 Hamas operatives, most of them students at the Al Quds University campus in Abu Dis, in connection with the plot.