Hamas plot to attack Israel, PA in West Bank foiled by mass arrests

Terror cells planned to kidnap Israelis, shoot at cars and strike IDF checkpoints in bid to fray Jerusalem-Ramallah ties

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Palestinian security forces (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Hamas reportedly planned to carry out a series of terrorist attacks against Israel and Palestinian Authority in the near future, but the plot was scuppered because of the arrest of over 250 Hamas members by PA security in the West Bank, a Palestinian official told The Times of Israel.

The Hamas cells planned to kidnap Israelis, fire at vehicles on main arteries in the West Bank, launch attacks on IDF checkpoints and assassinate senior PA security officials.

Behind the plot was a cadre of veteran Hamas fighters known as the “West Bank office,” comprising former convicted terrorists from the West Bank who were released from Israeli prisons to the Gaza Strip in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal. The cells were managed by senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri.

The aim, the PA official said, was to deteriorate ties between Israel and the PA, and to cause Israel to make a drastic move which would inflame the West Bank.

The PA confiscated funds in possession of the Hamas operatives and captured weapons and explosives.

Earlier this month, Hamas alleged that more than 200 of its members were arrested by the Palestinian Authority recently, with most of them tortured, threatening to widen a rift between Palestinian factions.

“Hamas members in the occupied West Bank are being submitted to their worst campaign of arrests — their biggest and longest,” Hamas official Abdurahman Shadid told journalists.

He said more than 200 had been arrested since July 2 in the West Bank and “most have been severely tortured.”

The Palestinian Authority did not immediately respond to the claims, though one of its officials said last week that about 100 Hamas members had been arrested. A Palestinian Authority official told AFP that about 100 Hamas members had been arrested over alleged plans to attack the PA.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the allegations “cover for political arrests.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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