Hamas tricked West Bank residents into delivering cash, weapons to terrorists

The Shin Bet uncovered a scheme in which Hamas terrorists posed as employers looking for couriers to trick West Bank residents.

Weapons, ammunition, uniforms and money in order to carry out attacks in the West Bank confiscated by the Shin Bet (photo credit: SHIN BET)
Weapons, ammunition, uniforms and money in order to carry out attacks in the West Bank confiscated by the Shin Bet
(photo credit: SHIN BET)

The Shin Bet uncovered a scheme in which Hamas terrorists in Gaza use Palestinians from the West Bank, sometimes without their knowledge, as aid in carrying out terror attacks, the intelligence agency revealed on Wednesday.

This activity is managed by the "Bank Staff" - a Hamas body in Gaza that's managed by people once exiled from Israel in the Gilad Schalit deal.

How does the scheme work?

The terrorists in the Gaza Strip hide their real identities and pose as business companies, recruit young Palestinians from the West Bank for paid "work" and send them to carry out various tasks. Some of them were transferring funds meant for buying weapons for terror attacks, others transported packages with weapons or ammunition in them without knowing the true nature of their cargo.

The weapons and funds handled by the unwitting delivery people were intended to ultimately be delivered to Hamas terrorists in the West Bank who are recruited from Gaza to carry out terror attacks. Furthermore, some of the messengers, who were in contact with Hamas terrorists in Gaza, had been charged with weapons trafficking in the past. As a result, some of them were indicted in a military court.

One of the detainees is Salam Zid, a 27-year-old resident of the Jenin refugee camp. In July 2022, he was contacted by an unknown Facebook account with the name Khaled Talab. The user offered him a job in a Turkish delivery company that works in the West Bank. In the beginning, Zid was asked to deliver large sums of money worth thousands of shekels between various areas in the West Bank like Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron, but Zid didn't know that this was Hamas money.

Salam Zid (left) who was tricked into delivering Hamas cash and weapons by Mahmad Yazan Jaber (right). (credit: Shin Bet Communications)Salam Zid (left) who was tricked into delivering Hamas cash and weapons by Mahmad Yazan Jaber (right). (credit: Shin Bet Communications)

The Shin Bet investigation revealed that some of the money got to the recruits through digital currency merchants who were also tricked by Hamas.

At the second stage, when the tasks became more "suspicious," Talab posed himself as someone who works for Palestinian politician Mouhamad Dahlan and sent Zid to purchase weapons including an M-16, an M4, two pistols and ammunition.

Zid got help in the purchase from his cousin Ahmed who was also unknowingly being used by Hamas. In one of the purchases, Zid was asked to deliver two of the pistols he bought to Kafr Hawara to brothers Mahmed and Mahmoud A'azi. A few weeks later, the brothers carried out a terror attack on Highway 60 using those same guns.

In another case, Mahmad Yazan Jaber, aged 21 from east Jerusalem, found an ad on Facebook that claimed to be seeking people to work in a restaurant. After he commented on the ad, he was messaged by a man who called himself Abu Alaa who told Jaber that he needed a courier to deliver boxes of perfume to the West Bank. In August, Mahmed began buying and delivering weapons at Abu Alaa's instructions and delivers a gun and ammunition to Balal Hamiel, a Hamas terrorist and an M4 to Fars Maala. The two were also arrested and interrogated.

Purchasing the weapons required a significant amount of cash. In order to carry out the purchases, the terrorists tricked residents of the West Bank through cryptocurrency trade. They contacted digital currency buyers under false identities, sold them virtual money and used the money to buy weapons which they picked up using the unknowing couriers from the West Bank who also delivered the money to the next link in the chain.

"The activity of Hamas and other terrorist organizations will bring about the restriction of entry permits to Israel for workers from Gaza," said an Israeli defense source. "In the meantime, in the above case, the security system will deny the entry permits of approximately 230 Gazan workers who work in Israel - relatives of those involved in terrorist activities."