Plotted to attack Israel's embassy in Sweden

Israel says it uncovered Hamas terror network planning attacks in Europe

Mossad and Shin Bet release details on group’s attempts to attack Jewish and Israeli targets, say slain Hamas leaders in Lebanon helmed the efforts

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

File - Two suspects are led from a helicopter to a car by police officers at a helipad in Karlsruhe, Germany, December 15, 2023. (Uli Deck/dpa via AP)
File - Two suspects are led from a helicopter to a car by police officers at a helipad in Karlsruhe, Germany, December 15, 2023. (Uli Deck/dpa via AP)

Hamas runs a network of operatives in Europe commanded by terror leaders in Lebanon, Israel said Saturday as its intelligence agencies released new details on the Gaza-based organization’s attempts to attack Israeli and Jewish targets abroad.

Most of the group’s Lebanon-based commanders, including Saleh al-Arouri and Khalil Harraz, were killed in airstrikes in recent weeks attributed to Israel, as Jerusalem pursues Hamas in Gaza and beyond.

Hamas cells in Denmark, Germany and Holland were arrested in December on suspicion of plotting to attack Jewish targets in Europe.

According to a statement released Saturday by the Prime Minister’s Office, Israel’s Mossad and Shin Bet agencies in cooperation with foreign partners have been able to build a “comprehensive and in-depth” picture of Hamas’s efforts to carry out attacks in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The PMO said Israel has uncovered “details on theaters of operation, terror targets, and on those involved in carrying out attacks — from Hamas commanders in Lebanon to the last of the attackers in the operational infrastructure.”

It did not provide many further details on these findings, but said the network had been planning to attack Israel’s embassy in Sweden, buy UAVs and utilize criminal organizations in Europe to support attacks.

A chart released by the Mossad and Shin Bet showing Hamas’s command structure in Europe, headed by senior terror leaders in Lebanon (PMO)

Arouri, wanted for years by Israel and seen as the prime orchestrator of Hamas’s West Bank terrorism, was killed earlier this month in a strike in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said the blast was carried out by an Israeli drone.

Israeli officials declined to comment. Unnamed US officials told The New York Times and Washington Post that Israel was responsible.

Israel has vowed to target all leaders of Hamas after the terror group’s devastating October 7 attack on Israel that killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and saw the abduction of over 240 others.

Senior police inspector and head of emergency services in Copenhagen Police Peter Dahl gives a joint press briefing at the police station in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 14, 2023. (Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

In late October, in response to the massacres, Israel launched a large-scale offensive in the Gaza Strip with the stated goal of destroying Hamas. The fighting is ongoing, with the Strip’s north largely under Israeli control, while intensive battles continue in the south and center.

Harraz, deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing in Lebanon, was killed in a November strike in Lebanon also attributed to Israel.

On Friday, Danish police said that seven people suspected of involvement in a planned terror attack foiled by authorities in December had links to Hamas. Police said on December 14 that they had arrested three people in Denmark suspected of planning a “terror” attack, but provided no other details.

Hamas members carry the coffin of Saleh al-Arouri, one of the top Hamas terror group commanders, who was killed in an apparent Israeli strike Tuesday, during his funeral in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 4, 2024. (AP/Hussein Malla)

The prosecutor’s statement appeared to back up comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said on December 14 that Denmark’s security forces had “thwarted an attack, the goal of which was to kill innocent civilians on European soil.

“The Hamas terrorist organization has been working relentlessly and exhaustively to expand its lethal operations to Europe, and thereby constitutes a threat to the domestic security of these countries,” Netanyahu said then of the apparent plot against Jewish or Israeli targets.

Danish Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said Friday that the alleged connection to Hamas “confirms that the threat against Denmark is serious, but luckily we have a strong police and intelligence service doing their best to protect us every day.”

In December, Israel updated travel warnings for dozens of countries, amid rising antisemitism and threats of violence against Israelis and Jews around the world as its war against Hamas in Gaza continues, sparked by the terror group’s October 7 massacres.

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