Israeli security forces early Monday carried out further operations in the West Bank to disrupt alleged plans for major terror attacks, using new intel gained following the arrest of some 20 suspected members of a Hamas cell.
It was the second straight night Israeli troops operated in the town of Bidu, near Jerusalem. Three Hamas gunmen were killed in a shootout with soldiers the night before.
In the latest raids, forces found a significant cache of explosive devices intended to be used in a terror attack in the capital in the coming days, according to television reports Monday.
The “kilograms of explosives” were hidden in a well whose exact whereabouts were determined after the Shin Bet internal security service interrogated the cell’s mastermind and other members, the reports said.
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces declined The Times of Israel’s request for further information, citing the ongoing investigation.
Clashes were reported between Palestinians and Israeli troops during the operation in Bidu. There were no reports of injuries.
The reported mastermind of the Hamas cell was wounded during a separate gun battle early Sunday in the town of Burqin, near Jenin.
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According to the IDF’s initial investigation, as troops approached the house in which the suspect was hiding, the Hamas operative opened fire at them from close range from the yard of the home.
Two IDF soldiers — a company commander and his radioman — were injured. The wounded suspect was taken into custody.
The military said at least seven suspected members of the Hamas cell were arrested during arrest raids overnight Saturday, and at least five other suspected terrorists were killed after they opened fire at IDF troops. Five guns were also confiscated in the raids, along with large amounts of ammunition. Several other members of the group had been arrested on the preceding nights.
It is estimated that the West Bank operations to dismantle the terror network will continue in the coming days, as the IDF believes some members are still on the loose.
Officials said the cell had planned an immediate major terror attack.
“It is important for you to know that if we had not stopped this network of the Hamas terror organization, they would have been at an advanced stage and would have carried out attacks in Israeli cities,” IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said Monday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday that “security forces acted tonight in Judea and Samaria against Hamas terrorists who were poised to carry out terror attacks in the immediate future,” using the biblical term for the West Bank.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.