The IDF and Shin Bet security agency have busted a Hamas cell in Ramallah and villages in the Binyamin region of the West Bank and arrested 30 suspects, the army announced on Monday.
The charges included membership in and activity on behalf of an illegal organization, maintaining contact with an enemy group, and laundering funds on behalf of the organization.
The Palestinians had allegedly tried to rehabilitate the terror group’s activities in the West Bank. The Shin Bet said the group was planning to establish a Hamas operation in Hebron and Bethlehem, but the plan was foiled by the arrests.
Two of the suspects also allegedly participated in the 2000 lynching of two IDF reservists, Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz.
“The affair reveals, once again, the Hamas leadership’s efforts both here and abroad to bolster their enterprise in the field and improve their operations,” the army said in a statement.
The suspects had allegedly been in contact with foreign-based leaders of Hamas in order to gather intelligence and transfer funds. Some of Hamas’s leadership cadre — including former political bureau chairman Khaled Mashaal — was based in Syria from 2001 to 2012, when the Syrian uprising compelled the group to relocate to Qatar.
The alleged Hamas members also gave money to families of Palestinian prisoners, and were said to have held secret meetings during which they planned to boost university-based cells ahead of the Palestinian Authority elections, which took place earlier in October.
They were believed to have tried to conceal their communication with the foreign-based Hamas commanders by using fictitious identities, couriers, mail boxes and mobile memory cards.