Palestinian Authority police officers stand guard in the West Bank [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority security forces have recently arrested five pro-Iranian operatives in Bethlehem planning to establish a foothold in the West Bank and carry out attacks against Israel, Israel Radio cited Palestinian security forces as saying.
According to the sources, the five members of the 'a-Sabrin' organization had operated in the Gaza Strip over the past years before being arrested two weeks ago after leaving the coastal Palestinian enclave.
The operatives working under Iranian orders had reportedly received funding in Gaza and were instructed to carry out terror attacks.
The Israel Radio report cited the organization's leader in Gaza, Hisham Salem, as confirming that the group operates in the West Bank, adding that it would soon receive financial and military aide.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously warned that Iran is increasing its efforts to deepen its terrorist activities in the West Bank.
While Hamas and the Islamic Republic have faced strained ties since 2011 over their backing of opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, other Iranian proxy groups have recently been caught attempting to set up operations in the West Bank.
In January, security forces announced that they had foiled a Hezbollah-controlled
suicide bombing and sniper cell based in the West Bank city of Tulkarm.
According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the terror cell was set up by the son of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Nonetheless, Hezbollah was reportedly expected to start mediating
soon between Hamas and Iran in order to reconcile between both parties and bring Hamas, which is financed currently by the Gulf states, back into Tehran's fold.
London-based Asharq al-Awsa
t reported in January that the new mediation comes after Iran failed in its previous attempts to convince Hamas to announce its support for Iran in the Islamic Republic’s battle with Saudi Arabia for regional supremacy, in exchange for Iranian financial aid.