Alleged 24-man Hamas cell busted in West Bank

Shin Bet says terror group’s leaders in Qatar, Gaza sponsored Qalqilya network; ‘senior officials’ among detainees

Illustrative photo of IDF soldiers during search patrols in the West Bank, June 16, 2014. (IDF Spokesperson/FLASH90
Illustrative photo of IDF soldiers during search patrols in the West Bank, June 16, 2014. (IDF Spokesperson/FLASH90

Israeli security forces uncovered a Hamas cell in the West Bank and arrested some 24 operatives overnight Monday, the Shin Bet said in a statement.

The detainees, who were not named, were apprehended in a joint operation with the Israel Police and Israel Defense Forces, and “included “senior Hamas officials, some of whom have been jailed in the past, some more than once, for their Hamas activity, including military activity,” the security agency said.

According to the Shin Bet, the group was receiving funding from Hamas leaders in Qatar and the Gaza Strip.

Some NIS 35,000 ($9,000) was also seized in the raid.

The Shin Bet said the incident underlined Hamas’s ongoing efforts to organize cells in the West Bank “with the ultimate goal, among many, of carrying out attacks and military activities against Israeli targets.”

In response, Hamas said the arrests “would not cause the intifada to fail.”

“It only drives us to continue to make Israel pay for its crimes,” the terror group said.

The crackdown took place near the city of Qalqilya, which borders the Israeli town of Kfar Saba.

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On Monday, Defense Ministry guards shot dead a Palestinian woman who approached them with a knife near Qalqilya. The incident came a day after a stabbing attack in the same area seriously wounded a 48-year-old Israeli man. The attacker in Sunday’s stabbing later turned himself in to the Palestinian security services.

The arrests overnight Monday came amid swirling violence in the West Bank, which has seen near-daily stabbings and car-ramming attacks in the past seven weeks. Twelve Israelis have been killed in attacks since early October.

On October 6, the Shin Bet said it had arrested a five-member Hamas cell near Nablus responsible for the killings of Naama and Eitam Henkin, who were shot dead in their car. The security service in July had also said it nabbed four of the seven members of a Hamas cell behind the killing of Malachy Rosenfeld in a drive-by shooting near the settlement of Shvut Rachel.

A group linked to Hamas also claimed the fatal shooting of Danny Gonen, 25, near the settlement of Dolev, in June.

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