Hamas militants attend the funeral of members of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas, in the central Gaza Strip March 22, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency announced on Wednesday that had it foiled efforts by Hamas to carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis under the direction of operatives from the Gaza Strip.
According to the agency, 21-year-old Issa Shalaldeh and 20-year-old Omar Mas’ud were arrested on suspicion of being recruited by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to carry out attacks against Israelis, and also for aiding in the transfer of terrorist funds.
The two activists in the Hamas student group at Bir Zeit University
are also suspected of undergoing military training. They were charged with having links with terrorists and being members of a terrorist organization.
During the investigation, 24 year-old Hazem Hamayel, also from the West Bank, was found to have contacted a Hamas official through a fictional Facebook profile. The Hamas official allegedly taught him how to organize a terrorist attack.
According to the Shin Bet, senior members of Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip established cells in Gaza and the West Bank in 2015 in order to recruit more operatives to carry out attacks against Israelis.
The cell specifically aims to recruit Palestinian engineering and technology students who would have the know-how to manufacture explosives.
“The activity of the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, along with additional Hamas activity from the Gaza Strip is an inseparable part of Hamas’s attempts to undermine security stability in the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip,” read a statement from Shin Bet.
“The agency follows these ongoing efforts and will work to thwart any activity of the Hamas terrorist organization in advance,” it added.
Dozens of Hamas operatives have been arrested by Shin Bet and the IDF since the establishment of the cell. Under interrogation, the operatives have confessed to having been recruited by the Gaza cell through social networks in order to carry out attacks against Israelis.
Since the beginning of the latest wave of violence to hit Israel and the West Bank in September 2015, numerous Hamas attacks have been thwarted by security forces.
In June, Shin Bet arrested 20 Hamas members from the West Bank city of Nablus who planned lethal attacks across the country, including a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
Then in August, the security agency broke up a large network in Hebron that recruited dozens of activists, including a number of women who operated in coordination with Hamas headquarters abroad as well as in the Gaza Strip.
In January, security forces broke up a 17-member Hamas cell in the southern West Bank whose members had been active in promoting terrorist attacks under the guidance of a Hamas activist in the Gaza Strip.
A Hamas kidnapping plot was also broken up by the Shin Bet last December, when cell members operating from the village of Tel near Nablus planned to use Israeli hostages as a bargaining chip in negotiations to release Palestinians held in Israeli jails.
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