In a new report, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) revealed that in recent months Hamas has increased its efforts to carry out terror attacks, including kidnappings, suicide bombings, and rocket attacks, in the West Bank.
This information, the report said, came as a result of interrogation of Palestinian detainees.
According to the Shin Bet report, Fathi Hamad, Hamas’ Interior Minister in the Gaza Strip, has been at the forefront of these efforts. Hamad has been using Hamas operatives as well as members of the Defenders of Al Aqsa, a Hamas-linked group that he founded, the report stated.
Hamas’ new recruits, who received weapons training, were in contact with associates of Hamad primarily via email. Prior to their arrest, the Shin Bet said, the operatives had told their handlers that they were prepared to carry out their attacks shortly.
The operatives had been given “concrete orders to kidnap a soldier and to take away his identity card and mobile phone in order to conduct negotiations for his release – and then afterwards to kill him and bury him in a secret location,” the report continued.
Kidnapping operations are a grave concern for Israeli authorities. According to the Shin Bet, one-third of the approximately 100 “significant attacks” it thwarted in 2012 were kidnapping attempts. On Feb. 23, Avi Mizrahi, then the commander of the IDF’s Central Command, stated that within the past four months there had been 18 kidnapping attempts by Palestinian terrorists, most of which were tied to Hamas.
The Shin Bet report concluded by saying that Hamad’s activities were “a gross violation” of the ceasefire deal that brought an end to Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.
In recent months, Israeli authorities have exposed a number of Hamas terror cells in the West Bank. On March 4, 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.” 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.” Husam Badran, who was responsible for numerous terror attacks during the second Intifada, was described as the “primary contact person abroad” for the cell.
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