Israeli authorities today 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 (PIJ), had plans to carry out terror attacks against Israelis that included kidnappings.
According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the members of the PIJ Jihad cell had planned “to approach a hitchhiking station, open fire on Israeli soldiers or civilians waiting there and then kidnap them.” Those arrested from the PIJ cell were Motaz Muhammed Taleb Abido, Bashir Aid Muhammed Zahda, Hazem Auni Muhammed Tawil, and Abdullah Muhammed Ata Abido.
Cell members Hazem Tawil, Motaz Abido, and Abdullah Abido had previously served time in Israeli prisons for terror-related activities. According to the IDF, Motaz Abido is a “senior operative of Islamic Jihad in the Hebron area” and was responsible for recruiting other members of the cell.
The Hamas cell was comprised of at least nine members and led by Nadel Mazen Balut. According to the IDF, the cell “intended to kidnap and murder an Israeli, hide his or her body and then negotiate for the release of prisoners.”
It is unclear exactly how far along in their planning each cell was at the time of the arrests. An explosive device was found in the possession of members of the Hamas cell, however.
Today’s announcement comes almost a fortnight after Israeli authorities announced the arrest of members of a 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 thwarted 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.”
Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.