Shin Bet nabs Syria-trained Hamas operative in West Bank

Shin Bet nabs Syria-trained Hamas operative in West Bank

Palestinian man, living in Cyprus, recruited in Jordan and directed from Turkey, allegedly sent to carry out terror attacks in Israel

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Malek Nizar Yousef Qazmar. (Shin Bet)
Malek Nizar Yousef Qazmar. (Shin Bet)

A Palestinian man who allegedly trained in Syria to carry out terror attacks in Israel on behalf of Hamas was arrested by the Shin Bet security service in February after he returned to the West Bank, the agency said Wednesday.

Malek Nizar Yousef Qazmar, 23, is said to have joined the terrorist group in August 2015 when he was living in Jordan. Originally from Qalqilya in the West Bank, the Palestinian man lived in Turkish Cyprus for many years.

In January 2016, Qazmar was sent to a military training camp in Syria, the Shin Bet said.

“There he underwent various shooting exercises and theoretical training in crafting improvised explosive devices and explosive material,” the security service said.

Earlier this year, Qazmar “traveled to Istanbul where he met with Hamas operatives who instructed him to work to enlist operatives to Hamas’s ranks” in Israel, the Shin Bet said.

According to the security agency, Qazmar was also instructed to carry out terror attacks in Israel as well.

The 23-year-old was arrested when he tried to enter the West Bank. During his interrogation, Qazmar handed over to investigators a memory card loaded with encrypted information that he was given in Turkey.

The Shin Bet decrypted the card, finding “extensive military instructions and information meant to help him carry out his missions,” the agency said.

Last week, an indictment was filed against Qazmar in a military court in the Israel army’s Samaria Territorial Brigade, accusing him of “serious security violations,” the Shin Bet said.

“This investigation shows the efforts by the Hamas headquarters abroad, mostly in Turkey territory, per the instructions of ‘the military commander of the West Bank,’ Saleh al-Arouri,” the agency said.

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