Today Israeli authorities announced the arrest of a Hamas operative in the West Bank who was “planning to carry out terror attacks involving shooting and kidnapping Israelis.” Baker Atallah Samiach Saad, a resident of Ramallah, was helped in planning his attacks by a Hamas terrorist released in the exchange for Gilad Shalit in October 2011. According to the Israel Defense Forces, Saad met Qatar-based Hisham Abed Elkader Ibrahim Hajaz in April in Jordan.
Hajaz was exiled to Qatar as part of the exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in October 2011. Prior to being exiled, Hajaz had been given 10 life sentences for his role in terror attacks against Israelis between 2001 and 2003.
During the April meeting in Jordan, Hajaz encouraged Saad to carry out terror attacks against Israelis, including kidnappings. Saad was also asked to recruit more people to carry out additional attacks.
According to the IDF, Saad “even agreed to travel to Sudan to undergo military training.” In January 2013, a delegation from Hamas’ Interior Ministry, led by Fathi Hamad, visited Khartoum and reached an agreement meant to see Hamas members sent to Sudan for military training.
Today’s announcement comes almost a fortnight after Israeli authorities announced the thwarting of a number of kidnapping plots by Palestinian terror groups in recent months. Two separate cells operating near Hebron, one tied to Hamas and another tied to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, had plans to carry out terror attacks against Israelis that included kidnappings. Earlier in May, Israeli authorities had announced the arrest of members of a separate Hamas cell in the West Bank that was planning to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers, among other terror activities.
Since January the Shin Bet has tallied over 30 foiled kidnapping attempts in the West Bank, according to recent Israeli media reports. By contrast, in all of 2012, there were 24 thwarted attempts in the West Bank. According to the Shin Bet’s 2012 annual report, one-third of the approximately 100 “significant attacks” it thwarted from Gaza, the West Bank, and within Israel in 2012 were kidnapping attempts.
One IDF officer recently conceded that while Israeli authorities “have been able to thwart the kidnapping attempts … the scope is extraordinary, and it is clear we will not be able to foil these attempts forever.”
In recent months, Israeli authorities have exposed a number of Hamas terror cells in the West Bank. On March 13, the Shin Bet revealed that Hamas’ Interior Minister Fathi Hammad has been at the forefront of the terror group’s efforts to carry out terror attacks in the West Bank, including kidnappings, suicide bombings, and rocket attacks.
Less than two weeks earlier, authorities announced the arrest of members of a Hamas cell in Hebron that “intended to carry out various terror attacks — but were arrested before executing their plans.” On Feb. 6, Israeli authorities reported the thwarting of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad kidnapping plot.
In late January, Israeli authorities announced the arrest of approximately 20 Hamas terrorists who were trying “to establish a local headquarters in Hebron” and were “planning to kidnap an IDF soldier.”