Analysis: The Hamas threat from the West Bank

Hamas W. Bank branch continues to try to execute terror in Israel.

Hamas supporters rally in Hebron 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas supporters rally in Hebron 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has thwarted another Hamas terror plot originating from the West Bank, and, once again, saved dozens of civilians from violent death and crippling injury.
Had the latest plot not been stopped, a bomb would have torn though the crowded Jerusalem Mamilla Mall during the peak holiday season. Traumatic scenes of blood-soaked mayhem would have returned to the capital.
Although Hamas as an entity is largely based in the Gaza Strip, and the threat it poses to Israeli civilians is usually measured in terms of its rocket capabilities, the fact remains that its West Bank branch has not stopped trying to pull off an atrocity in Israel.
This tactic allows the regime to craftily continue its jihad against Israel, as it clings to the ceasefire in place since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense last year.
Several past investigations have documented how this tactic has been put into practice.
For example, in March this year, a Palestinian resident of Ramallah appeared before an Israeli military court and was charged with attempting to set up a terror cell, after being recruited for the mission by Hamas in Gaza.
The suspect, a 26-year-old attorney, allegedly worked under the instruction of the regime’s military wing, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, and followed directives he received via Facebook and emails to set up a terror cell that would fire rockets and kidnap and kill a soldier.
In the past, some attacks that have been thwarted were linked by security forces to the Gazan interior minister, Fathi Hammad (though he has predictably denied the charges).
There have been at least three known arrests of Hamas terror cells in the West Bank this year, prior to the latest investigation.
They all form part of a broader effort by it to recover its West Bank infrastructure, which was all but destroyed by Israel’s counter-terror operations a decade ago.
These incidents raise an unavoidable question: Can a future attack, one that isn’t thwarted, have direct repercussions on current relative calm between Israel and Gaza? To what extent are these two arenas interlinked? So far, these questions have not been put to the test, thanks to the lifesaving efficiency of the Shin Bet.