This is how the Shin Bet handles terrorist arrests in West Bank

Operations to arrest terrorists from refugee camps are handled in three stages from undercover intelligence gathering to the arrest.

The IDF arrests the terrorists that murdered Elan Ganeles earlier this week. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The IDF arrests the terrorists that murdered Elan Ganeles earlier this week.

The moment the "golden message" is received by the Shin Bet about a hiding place of armed suspects in the heart of a refugee camp, a quick situation assessment is conducted on the quality of the undercover force that will be sent first to the mission.

Phase 1: Undercover agents collect intelligence

The force that will be required to go to the area and will collect as must intelligence as possible will build a critical snapshot for the rest of the operation and will pave the way for the rest of the soldiers to come.

The identity of the undercover force will be decided among others according to the level of risk that rises from the willingness of the terrorists in the hideout to fight to the death, the type of refugee camp and the proximity that may be dangerous according to the building's location in the area.

First up, the most experienced and best of the best are the undercover officers of Israel's National Counter Terror Unit - a small group of soldiers that are defined as "outstanding individuals." Together with human and technological abilities that exceed all imagination, they are the home unit of the Shin Bet.

Therefore, sending them to action will only happen when the risk level is the highest. This will be according to the recommendation of the director of the Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem Unit of the Shin Bet and in coordination with the commander of special operations in the command.

 IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police forces operated in several locations in the West Bank during Sunday night, among others in the villages of Sa'ir and Shuyukh, arresting a total of 16 suspects (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT) IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police forces operated in several locations in the West Bank during Sunday night, among others in the villages of Sa'ir and Shuyukh, arresting a total of 16 suspects (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

After that, and according to the level of threat, the Border Police's West Bank undercover soldiers may be chosen, and finally, the undercover soldiers from the Duvdevan unit.

The moment the green light is given, all the systems are ready to follow after the first and most sensitive stage. 

The undercover soldiers are already in a car with Palestinian license plates. They are dressed as members of the camp, sharp and knowledgeable on the area. With a cover story for their identity only on the verge of perfection, because there are always surprises, they know the different routes like the back of their hands, the shops, the local families, the characters controlling the camp and the gossip in the streets including who got married yesterday.

"Every soldier has their own comforts with carrying a gun," said a senior soldier. "There are those who hide it close to their tummy, their ankle, their leg, their chest or in a designated bag. It depends on the clothes, the circumstances and the exercise. What's important is that in the moment of truth, the weapon will be revealed in a split second and will be ready to be fired."

On their way to the location, the undercover soldiers will pass under the gazes of the innocent Palestinian citizens but especially under the gazes of the lookouts on the roofs, terrorists who live in the camp and the circle of abetters who secure the hiding spot where the wanted terrorists are. Sometimes this will be a local barbershop owner on a central road that will look into suspicious activity and report back to the armed camp residents.

Phase 2: Covert operation turns overt

After the green light from the undercover agents, the other soldiers will turn the operation from covert to overt at a speed of 200 k.p.h. Every second is critical and important because the suspects may escape or prepare to attack. In those seconds, IDF soldiers in uniform will enter camouflaged cars. Every entry like this will be done with an escort of the Shin Bet's Operations Unit which combines every action with technological abilities.

According to Palestinian reports, in the last year, soldiers entered disguised as trucks giving out food.

"In Jenin, they collected video from the cameras in the streets most of which we saw on social media," said an IDF official from the Center Command. "They did research after a few undercover operations and decided to put trap obstacles at the entrance to the came and ban entry of trucks to the heart of the camp. Whoever wants can transfer their load by hand.

"The anxiety and fear from undercover agents in the camps is so great that there have been cases and Nablus and Jenin where Palestinian security forces were identified by locals as undercover Israelis and opened fire on."

The official explained that "this is a game of cat and mouse. During the time when they began to install street cameras, everyone was scared about what would happen and how they woul deal with it. It's definitely more dangerous and complicated, but the IDF and Shin Bet find a solution for every challenge. Today, they are in an entirely different situation."

Phase 3: IDF enters in armored vehicles

In the third and final stage of the mission, military convoys will enter in armored vehicles to isolate the area and prevent armed people and rioters to mess up the arrest.

In action: Arresting Elan Ganeles' murderers

The Duvdevan undercover unit worked last week to arrest the terrorists who murdered Elan Ganeles in the Dead Sea on Monday. The undercover soldiers worked in the Aqbet Jabr refugee camp near Jericho. With the transition to the overt stage, calls were made in the Jericho mosques to help the armed force in the building. Quick work from the IDF and Shin Bet led to the arrest of the three suspects.

That same refugee camp in Jericho made the news lately and appears to be a developing terrorism area after four terror attacks came out of it including a shooting toward a bus of Kfir soldiers, a stabbing-ramming attack, an attempted attack on a restaurant at the Almog Junction and the terror attack in which Ganeles was murdered.

"It was a pressure pot," said ALAM Meir Biderman. "We tried to get the suspects out of the building and make an arrest. When the building was found, two people tried to escape from it, they got on a motorcycle, we shot at them and they were caught. One of them was injured by the shooting and on the way to the hospital he was pronounced dead."

He added that "after the pressure cooker start, the terrorist who carried out the attack came out with his hands raised and surrendered himself to the forces. Then they pointed to the gun with which the shooting was carried out in the attack."

After the arrest, the terrorists were taken in for interrogation to understand how they escaped, who sent them and if there are more shooters underground.