The Shin Bet security service, working in tandem with the Border Police, foiled an attempt by a terror cell to kidnap Israelis on New Year’s Eve, it was revealed on Sunday. The incident involved two West Bank Palestinians and two Arab citizens of Israel, whose identity was made public, along with details of the incident, when they were indicted at the Lod Regional Court.
Sayeed Manjhid Div Jasor, 19, and Tawfek Hadar Joufek Ajbonariyeh, 18, both from the West Bank town of Jenin, and Israeli citizen Yousef Hassin Youssef Warda, 34, from Qalansawe in central Israel, were arrested as they lay in ambush in a car near Kfar Saba, just north of Tel Aviv, on December 31.
Another Israeli citizen, Anas Jabiran, 18, from the central Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, was arrested for hosting the three would-be kidnappers in his home the night before the failed attack.
The group was apparently directed by two Islamic Jihad members: a prisoner in Israel and an ex-convict. The latter turned himself in to Palestinian Authority security forces after the arrest of his alleged co-conspirators.
The two Israeli citizens were charged with attempted kidnapping with the intention of carrying out extortion, contact with a foreign agent, and abetting a banned organization.
The incident illustrates that terror organizations still consider kidnapping a strategy for precipitating the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, the Shin Bet said in a statement. In addition, the statement said, terror groups were seeking to recruit Arab citizens of Israel, who can travel between Israel and the West Bank, to assist in operations and even smuggle people through checkpoints.
According to the investigation, the three terrorists tried for two days to kidnap either an IDF soldier or a citizen from various hitchhiking spots in central Israel and in the northern West Bank. The attempts failed, as they were unable to entice anyone to enter their vehicle. The group then planned to kidnap a reveler on New Year’s Eve, but that too failed. Finally, the three decided to spend the night in their vehicle near the Eyal checkpoint, outside Kfar Saba, before renewing their efforts in the morning. However, security forces descended on the vehicle and arrested them. Inside the car, Shin Bet agents and police found rope, masking tape, ski masks, box-cutters, and a fake gun.
The investigation of the four gang-members led to the arrest of another eight Islamic Jihad members in Jenin and the recovery of a Carl Gustav rifle, which is similar to a bazooka, the Shin Bet said.
Last week, security forces revealed that they had foiled a similar plot to kidnap Israelis involving a cell based in Hebron.
Israel has several times in the past traded prisoners for its captured soldiers and citizens. Most recently, in 2011, Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas militants grabbed Shalit in a cross-border raid from Gaza in 2006 and held him for over five years.