Five suspects, all current or former Palestinian security prisoners in Israel, were indicted Monday for planning to kidnap an IDF soldier or officer who could then be traded for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The indictment, which charges that Hamas was to provide funding and arms for the operation, comes as Israeli forces are engaged in a mission to locate three Israeli teens thought kidnapped by Hamas operatives to bargain for a similar deal.

The plan hatched by the five was designed to free 477 Palestinians from Israeli prisons, the Justice Ministry said Monday.

The five suspects – Hitham Salahia, Malek Hadad, Muhammad Hamayil, Mahmoud Abed el-Rahman, and Hamed Badran – were indicted in a district court in Beersheba.

The Shin Bet security service said earlier this month that it and the prison service had thwarted 11 kidnapping plots, orchestrated from within Israel’s prisons, since September 2013, when Nadal Amar murdered and hid the body of Sgt. Tomer Hazan at the behest of his brother, Nur, who has been in prison since 2003.

Salahia, serving two life sentences in Israeli prison, used a cellphone that had been smuggled into prison in order to contact a senior operative in Hamas’s armed wing. The man, named only as Abu-Abdullah in the indictment, agreed to fund the kidnapping and to provide the perpetrators with the necessary weapons.

An illustrative photo of an inmate at the Eshel prison in Beersheba (file photo: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

An illustrative photo of an inmate at the Eshel prison in Beersheba (file photo: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

In April-May 2014 Abu-Abdullah told Salahia that he would pass $40,000, two handguns and three cellphones to Hadad and Hamayel, who had been recruited by Salahia and had since been released from prison.

The two were to await orders from Salahia that Badran was supposed to transport out of prison on May 1 in a pocket sewn into his underpants and in his prayer beads. Badran, however, feared taking the messages that the fifth man, al-Rahman, had hidden on his body and instead tucked the notes into a doorpost in the prison.

A prison service guard found the message in the prayer beads during a final inspection of Badran’s belongings.

Salahia’s notes, according to the prosecution, instructed the perpetrators to abduct “an officer, a pilot officer or reservist.”