news

Syrian handler paid Hamas cell $100,000 to attack Israeli cities

Shin Bet security agency says it foiled major terrorist attacks on Israeli cities at “11th hour” after uncovering 20-member terrorist cell with “extraordinary” infrastructure in Nablus • Cell comprised mostly Hamas operatives, paid by Syria.

In the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Nablus, Hamas supporters attend a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the terror group’s founding, Dec. 15, 2017. Credit: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
In the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Nablus, Hamas supporters attend a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the terror group’s founding, Dec. 15, 2017. Credit: Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.

A Hamas plan to carry out terrorist attacks in ‎Israeli cities has been thwarted, the Shin Bet security ‎agency revealed on Sunday.‎

According to available details, Shin Bet agents, in collaboration with the military and police, uncovered ‎terrorist infrastructure they described as “extraordinary in its size ‎and level of activity” operating in the Nablus area in the West Bank.

According to the Shin Bet, the leader of the 20-‎member cell was paid $100,000 by a Syrian operative to target ‎major Israeli cities. ‎

The investigation so far has revealed that the cell became operational in October 2017 and ‎remained active until late April, when all 20 ‎suspects were arrested. ‎

According to the Shin Bet, most of the ‎suspects are Hamas operatives, and some have previous records that include terrorist activities, ‎especially building bombs.‎

During their interrogation, the suspects revealed ‎that they were tasked with carrying out a number of ‎known terrorist-attack attempts, including a bombing in Tel Aviv, a suicide attack in Jerusalem, an attack in the ‎Samaria community of Itamar, and several shooting ‎attacks across Judea and Samaria. ‎

The cell also enlisted the help of a Palestinian ‎‎chemistry teacher to manufacture explosives. ‎

The Shin Bet said these attacks were foiled “at the ‎11th hour.”

Security ‎forces who raided the suspects’ hideouts seized weapons and explosives, and uncovered ‎information leading to other Hamas terrorist ‎cells, according to the Shin Bet. ‎

‎“The arrests were carried out smoothly. We surprised ‎them where they least expected it in places where ‎they thought they would be safe. It was a complex ‎operation,” a Golani officer who took part in the ‎raid told Israel Hayom.‎

The Shin Bet identified the cell’s leaders as ‎Mutassem Muhammad Salem, 35, and Fares Kamil Zebidi, ‎‎33. ‎

Details of the investigation had been under a gag order that ‎was partially lifted on Sunday, when Salem and ‎Zebidi were indicted in a military court.‎

Salem is accused of acting on the orders of a Nusra ‎Front operative in Syria. The two communicated via ‎the Telegram messaging application, which allows for ‎encrypted communications.‎

According to the indictment, the Nusra Front operative offered Salem $100,000 to ‎prepare and detonate an explosive device in Israel, ‎and he agreed. ‎

‎“Discovering this cell demonstrates Hamas’s efforts ‎to establish terrorist infrastructure in Judea and ‎Samaria, as well as its constant desire to carry out ‎terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in an ‎effort to undermine the relative calm,” the Shin Bet ‎said.‎

Commented on the ‎arrests Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “the Shin Bet security agency, ‎IDF and the Israel Police have thwarted a Hamas ‎terrorist cell that sought to carry out horrific ‎attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, from Nablus in ‎Judea and Samaria. ‎

‎“Hamas is trying to attack us both from Gaza and ‎from Judea and Samaria,” he said. “This is why we will continue ‎to maintain security control of all areas west of ‎the Jordan River.”

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates