Israeli authorities today announced the exposure of another Hamas terror cell in Hebron. According to a statement on the IDF website, the cell’s members “intended to carry out various terror attacks – but were arrested before executing their plans.”
The three central members of the cell in Hebron, all of whom were arrested in late November, were named by Israeli authorities.
Manjed Musa Diab Junidi, 23, was the leader and recruiter for the cell. He was in contact with Bassel Hashem Abd al-Fatah al-Haymuni, a Hamas terrorist who had been deported to the Gaza Strip as part of the Gilad Shalit exchange. Al-Haymuni, who was originally from Hebron, had been serving a 23-year sentence for attempted murder, among other charges, prior to his release on Oct. 18, 2011.
Muhammad Hassan Rajab Abu Sahidem, 25, reportedly “confessed to building a pipe bomb for a planned terror attack and preparing shooting and explosive device attacks.”
The third cell member named by Israeli authorities was Anas Rateb Ahmad Davik, 23.
The involvement of terrorists released in the Shalit deal in plotting further terror operations is not a new development, but rather an increasing phenomenon. In April 2012, Israeli authorities announced that Omar Abu Sanina, who was exiled to the Gaza Strip in the Shalit deal, had tried to send “detailed instructions for how to kidnap an Israeli soldier” to Hamas terrorists in the West Bank. And earlier this year, 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 released in October 2011 in the first part of the exchange for Gilad Shalit, was described as the “primary contact person abroad” for the cell.
The IDF said today that “[t]he discovery of the network underscores the rising threat of Hamas activity in Judea and Samaria, particularly in light of Hamas’ control of the Gaza Strip.” In January, an Israeli security source told the Jerusalem Post: “We don’t wait until there is a military infrastructure in Hebron and Nablus that is on the way to carrying out attacks. We stop this before it happens.”
Today’s news comes approximately a month after Israeli authorities announced the thwarting of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad kidnapping plot.
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, revealed that within the past four months there had been 18 kidnapping attempts by Palestinian terrorists.
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