The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Police officers shot and moderately hurt two Palestinians allegedly involved in riots in East Jerusalem this evening, law enforcement officials say.
According to a police spokesperson, officers of the Jerusalem precinct and Border Police troops operated in the neighborhood of Silwan amid violent protests that included Molotov cocktails being hurled and fireworks launched.
The spokesperson says Border Police officers attempted to arrest some of the suspects.
“At a certain point, a Border Police officer — who was operating at the scene felt his life was in danger due to fireworks being fired directly at him and Molotov cocktails being hurled at him from a range of a few meters — fired accurately at the two suspects and neutralized them,” the spokesperson says.
The two Palestinians are moderately hurt and have been taken for further medical treatment.
No police officers are hurt during the violence.
— قناة الأقصى الفضائية (@SerajSat) January 25, 2023
Earlier today police clashed with Palestinians in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem as they demolished the home of a gunman who killed a soldier last year. One Palestinian was killed amid the clashes after he aimed a fake gun at the officers.
A government minister says that it is unlikely that they will succeed in sticking to a coalition timetable to make controversial changes to the Law of Return.
The comments come as Israeli lawmakers, rabbis and activists, representing a broad array of views, debate the Law of Return and proposed changes to it, broadly coming to the conclusion that the issue is complicated and volatile.
Religious parties in the coalition have pushed for the cancelation of the so-called “grandchild clause,” which grants citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent.
Opposition lawmakers, including Orthodox ones, have come out fiercely against the proposal, and the Likud party has resisted the move, pushing instead for a more nuanced amendment.
Culture Minister Miki Zohar says that in light of these complexities, the government will almost certainly not abide by the timetable laid out in its coalition agreements, which required it to propose a bill to amend the Law of Return by the end of March.
“Don’t worry, we won’t follow through on that clause [for the coalition deals] at least. We’ll take a lot more time than 60 days,” Zohar says, speaking at a conference on the Law of Return in Ramat Gan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled in favor of Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich in his battle with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over ministerial responsibility for the Civil Administration in the West Bank, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
The three met Sunday in a bid to sort out the issue that came to a head on Friday when the two clashed over the razing of an illegal West Bank outpost.
The outpost was razed on Gallant’s order, triggering tensions with Smotrich, who is also a junior minister in the Defense Ministry.
Smotrich said he had told the Civil Administration, an agency within the Defense Ministry, to halt the evacuation of Or Chaim but that Gallant had regardless authorized the action.
Under terms of a coalition agreement between Likud and Religious Zionism, Smotrich was made a minister within the Defense Ministry and given authority over the Civil Administration, which is in charge of civilian affairs in the West Bank, including enforcement against illegal construction.
During yesterday’s meeting Gallant warned that there can’t be a split in the chain of command, while senior security officials noted that the decisions of the Civil Administration also had security implications, Kan reported, publishing a partial transcript from the closed-door meeting.
However, Netanyahu, Smotrich and Justice Minister Yariv Levin all pointed to the coalition agreements as the covering factor.
A knife-wielding man described as a stateless Palestinian fatally stabbed two passengers and injured seven others on a train in northern Germany before being grabbed by members of the public and arrested by police, officials say. The motive of the attack was not immediately known.
Germany’s Federal Police force said the suspect used a knife to attack several passengers shortly before a regional train traveling from Kiel to Hamburg arrived at the Brokstedt station.
Police spokesman Juergen Henningsen from the nearby city of Flensburg says two of the stabbed people died after the attack. Three were severely injured and four others suffered minor injuries. No details were given about the identity of the victims.
The attacker was also injured and taken to the hospital, police say.
A group of former members of the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit are planning a three-day protest march to Jerusalem against the government’s planned judicial overhaul, Channel 12 reports.
The former commandos have issued a call to comrades and members of other elite units to join the protest that will see them walk from the Sayeret Matkal base to Jerusalem.
The message sent out calls it “the most important march of our lives,” and says they now have to fight for “Israel’s democracy.”
The protest follows similar ones by Israel’s lawyers, students and economists and mass public demonstrations against the plans, which critics say will dramatically defang Israel’s judiciary and undermine democracy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a member of Sayeret Matkal during his military service.
The Auschwitz museum says that because of the war in Ukraine, Russia will be excluded from the upcoming ceremony marking 78 years since the Red Army liberated the Nazi death camp.
“Given the aggression against a free and independent Ukraine, representatives of the Russian Federation have not been invited to attend this year’s commemoration,” Piotr Sawicki, spokesman for the museum at the site of the former camp, tells AFP.
Friday is the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp built by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland — a date that has become International Holocaust Memorial Day.
Until now, Russia has always taken part in the commemoration held every year on January 27, with its delegate speaking at the main ceremony.
Museum director Piotr Cywinski says it was obvious that he could “sign no letter to the Russian ambassador having an inviting tone” in the current context.
US President Joe Biden announce that the US will send 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, reversing months of persistent arguments that the tanks were too difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate and maintain.
The US decision came on the heels of Germany agreeing to send 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from its own stocks. Germany had said the Leopards would not be sent unless the US put its Abrams on the table, not wanting to incur Russia’s wrath without the US similarly committing its own tanks.
Biden said that in total European allies have agreed to send enough tanks to equip two Ukrainian tank battalions, or a total of 62 tanks.
“With spring approaching, Ukrainian forces are working to defend the territory they hold and preparing for additional counter offenses,” Biden says in his announcement of his decision to send the tanks. “To liberate their land, they need to be able to counter Russia’s evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield in the very near term.”
The announcement ends a standoff between Germany and the United States. Biden administration officials on Wednesday sought to downplay any friction between the two countries as both unveiled their plans.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds for the first time to reports that Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara was considering ordering him to take a leave of absence over a conflict of interest between his government’s planned judicial overhaul and his corruption trial.
“No one has the right to overturn the results of the election,” he says in response to a question on the issue at a press conference.
“I am working in accordance with my conflict of interest agreement. I act under the recommendations of lawyers that I work with and there are no conflicts of interest,” he says.
While Netanyahu has not spoken publicly about the issue before, the other heads of the coalition parties and Justice Minister Yariv Levin sent a letter to her earlier in the week warning that such a move would be tantamount to a coup.
Shortly after the letter was sent, Baharav-Miara denied Friday’s reports that she had discussed the prospect.
Media outlets had claimed the attorney general was weighing the issue due to the Netanyahu government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary. They claimed Baharav-Miara viewed this as a potential breach of conflict of interest by the premier, as he cannot be involved in matters that might impact his ongoing criminal trial for corruption.
Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib has placed a Palestinian flag outside of her office in the US Congress in response to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s effort to have the national symbol banned in Israel.
“Palestinians may be banned from flying their flag under an apartheid government, but we can still proudly do it at my office. I’m proud to be a Palestinian American and I want the Palestinian people to know that not all Americans support apartheid. No one can erase our existence,” Tlaib tweets.
Palestinians may be banned from flying their flag under an apartheid government, but we can still proudly do it at my office. I’m proud to be a Palestinian American and I want the Palestinian people to know that not all Americans support apartheid. No one can erase our existence. pic.twitter.com/vuW5ciLo1k
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) January 25, 2023
Israeli law permits the display of Palestinian flags, though police have wide leeway to take action to maintain public order and regularly remove them from public spaces and confiscate the flags from those waving them.
Ben Gvir has directed police to impose a blanket ban on the flags, but has received pushback from law enforcement over legal constraints.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich reaffirms his commitment to “continue the same responsible policy” that his predecessor Avigdor Liberman pushed.
He also promises that a “giant bundle of reforms” will be attached to the state budget to help ease the process of doing business in Israel.
Liberman drastically removed a series of tariffs on imported goods in a bid to make the economy more competitive and bring down prices.
Smotrich makes his comments alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who defended their government’s sweeping judicial reform plan amid criticism that it would undermine the Israeli economy by undermining investors’ faith in Israel’s rule of law.
Liberman rejects the comparison, saying the new government is leading Israel toward an economic crisis.
Yisrael Beytenu party chief and former finance minister Avigdor Liberman says a press conference held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is a sign of their fear and warns the country is heading to an economic crisis.
“This proves they are A-F-R-A-I-D, because they know the truth and understand that no one in the world is willing to swallow their lies and fabrications,” Liberman tweets.
“Israel is headed toward an economic crisis that we have not seen in decades and it is all because of Benjamin Netanyahu,” he says.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich hold a press conference to try and reassure global financial players concerned about the impact of a planned judicial overhaul.
“In recent days I have heard concerns about the effect of the legal reforms on our economic resilience, the truth is the opposite. Our steps to bolster democracy will not harm the economy, they will strengthen it,” Netanyahu says.
Netanyahu gives an example of the courts holding up the development of Israel’s gas fields, the Tel Aviv metro and the construction of the Route 6 highway, saying greater deregulation will boost the economy.
“Superfluous legal processes are like sand in the wheels of the Israeli economy,” he says.
The meeting comes as hundreds of Israeli economists published an “emergency letter” warning that the far-reaching judicial shakeup could have grave implications for the economy.
Their warning came the day after Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron reportedly outlined for Netanyahu the potential consequences and relayed warnings made by senior economic figures and officials from credit rating firms during his recent meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
A man stabbed and wounded several people on a train in northern Germany on Wednesday before police detained him, and two of the victims died, German news agency dpa reports.
Germany’s Federal Police force say the man used a knife to attack several passengers shortly before the regional train traveling from Kiel to Hamburg arrived at the Brokstedt station. An initial investigation indicates seven people were wounded, the police agency says.
Dpa later quotes the interior minister of Schleswig-Holstein state, Sabine Suetterlin-Waack, as saying two people were killed and five were wounded in the attack, which happened at about 3 p.m. local time.
The train station in Brokstedt was closed for several hours, the news agency says.
Police did not give dpa any information on the suspect’s identity and said his possible motives were under investigation.
In his meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, President Isaac Herzog calls on the EU to ramp up measures against Tehran, warning that “Iran is in Europe.”
“Iran is fighting Ukrainian citizens by supplying drones and lethal weapons,” he says, “endangering the world by rushing toward nuclear capabilities, killing and torturing its own citizens, and we believe it is about time that Europe take a very firm stance on Iran as it is a challenge not only to Israel, the region, the Middle East, but also to Europe and the world.”
He also calls the EU “a potential strategic partner for Israel in so many ways.”
Von der Leyen avoids mentioning specific issues on the world stage — or any concerns over Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians — saying instead “the strongest expression of the friendship between Israel and the European Union are 15,000 Erasmus students who are coming from the European Union to Israel, but also from Israel to the European Union.”
Police arrest four people, including two minors, on suspicion of raping a 28-year-old woman from Tel Aviv who has a mental illness.
Police say three of the suspects were brought for a remand hearing today and were ordered held for a further five days. The fourth suspect will be remanded tomorrow.
One of the suspects is 15, and another is 17. The other two suspects are 18 and 21.
The four are suspected of raping the woman in an abandoned building in the Jaffa neighborhood.
The US has in recent weeks asked Israel for 10 Hawk anti-aircraft batteries and hundreds of interceptor missiles that are mothballed in storage, the Walla news site reports.
Israel reportedly refuses to hand them over, claiming they are obsolete, the report says, citing three Israeli officials.
The report says the answer given to Washington is not genuine as the interceptor missiles, originally supplied to Israel in the 1960s, can be refurbished.
Israel has repeatedly rebuffed requests to supply Ukraine with weapons, fearing it could impact ties with Russia, which maintains a large military presence in Syria.
A burial worker in northern Israel circumcised the body of a recently deceased man ahead of the funeral, without the knowledge or consent of the family, according to a complaint filed with the Ministry of Religious Services.
Zman Yisrael, the Times of Israel’s Hebrew language sister site, reports that the incident allegedly occurred last week in the northern city of Nahariya and was done by a volunteer worker with no experience at the directive of the head of the local religious council.
The complaint was filed by a fellow worker at the cemetery, Avital Keren, who tells Zman Yisrael that this is a gross violation of norms at a Jewish funeral.
“Toward the end of the purification process, they discovered that the deceased was not circumcised — something that occasionally occurs with immigrants from the former Soviet Union,” Keren says.
Under normal circumstances, permission is requested from the family and, if granted, an experienced mohel is brought in to conduct a symbolic circumcision, Keren says, noting that if the family refuses there is no bar to conducting a traditional Jewish funeral.
“In this case, one of the volunteers called the acting manager and told him that the deceased was not circumcised. The manager, without thinking twice, told the volunteer, ‘Take a knife and circumcise him,'” he says.
“It is against all existing laws and a very serious act. It is a surgical procedure and it is absolutely forbidden to perform it without consent,” Keren says.
The daughter of the deceased told Zman Yisrael she was horrified by the report.
The head of the burial society denies the incident ever occurred.
A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck Wednesday off the southeastern Greek island of Rhodes, according to the Athens Geodynamic Institute. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
The quake rattled the nearby Turkish provinces of Mugla, Izmir and Antalya, and was felt as far away as Tel Aviv and the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Turkey’s AFAD emergency management agency said it had a preliminary magnitude of 5.4, and it is common for different seismological institutes to record variations in magnitude in the initial hours after an earthquake.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in Israel, Egypt or Turkey either, although the earthquake caused panic in Mugla province, where residents rushed out of buildings, HaberTurk television reported.
The undersea quake struck at 2:37 p.m. Greek time (1237 GMT), and had an epicenter nearly 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Athens and 58 kilometers southeast of the Rhodes town of Lindos, the Athens Geodynamic Institute said.
Greece and Turkey lie in a highly seismically active region. and experience hundreds of earthquakes each year. The vast majority cause no injuries or damage.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visit the Israeli Air Force command center to observe the ongoing joint Israeli-US Juniper Oak 2023 drill.
“The exercise brings to light the indisputable strategic partnership between Israel and the United States, and is another step in building Israeli military power,” Netanyahu says in remarks provided by his office.
“Israel will always defend itself on its own, but of course welcomes the intensifying cooperation with our great ally,” Netanyahu adds.
The large-scale drill is widely seen as a message to Iran.
The pair, along with military chief Herzi Halevi and National Security Adviser Tzahi Hanegbi, observe an air drill from the command center and are briefed on other aspects of the US-led exercise.
MK Simcha Rothman of the far-right Religious Zionism party has been sent to New York to hold a series of meetings with US Jewish leaders in a bid to ease their concerns over the government’s planned judicial overhaul, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
Rothman, who is head of the Knesset’s Law, Justice and Constitution Committee, is officially in New York for the launch of former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s book.
But Kan says his unofficial mission is to hold a series of meetings with American Jewish groups increasingly uneasy with reforms that critics say will undermine Israel’s democracy.
The report says that due to the importance the coalition sees in his mission, he was allowed to fly even though he would be missing crucial Knesset votes.
The trip comes days after the head of North America’s largest Jewish federation made the rare step of criticizing the proposed legislation and “imploring” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shelve it.
In an email sent Friday to supporters of the UJA-Federation of New York, its CEO, Eric Goldstein, wrote that he is “alarmed” by recent proposed judicial reforms that would allow the Knesset to override decisions by the Supreme Court and further politicize the selection of its justices.
JTA contributed to this report
An op-ed published by conservative columnist Bret Stephens in the New York Times takes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to task for enabling corruption in Israel and compares him unfavorably to another Jewish world leader, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky.
Stephens, a former editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post, notes how Zelensky fired a corrupt official on Sunday vowing to rid Ukraine of corruption. At the same time, Netanyahu was forced by the High Court of Justice to fire Shas leader Aryeh Deri over his criminal convictions but vowed to do everything he could to bring him back into the government.
“What a contrast,” Stephens writes. “Amid a desperate war of national survival, Zelensky is waging a campaign to kick the crooks out of government. And in a desperate bid to remain in office, Netanyahu is waging a campaign to keep the crooks in.”
Stephens writes that he used to admire Netanyahu for his good governance, leading Israel’s flourishing economy and thwarting Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons, but no longer.
“For these reasons, I once called Netanyahu the Richard Nixon of Israel. But that turned out to be deeply unkind — to Nixon. At least there were limits to what the 37th president was willing to do to the system of constitutional government to keep himself in office,” he writes.
Stephens slams Netanyahu for planning a judicial overhaul that will undermine democracy in order to extricate himself from his corruption trials and put Israel on a path toward authoritarian rule.
“But if Israel is to persevere, it also must maintain the moral respect of its honest friends. Too bad for it that, today, the Jewish people’s greatest leader resides in Kyiv rather than Jerusalem,” he says.
Pope Francis criticizes laws that criminalize homosexuality as “unjust,” saying God loves all his children just as they are, and called on Catholic bishops who support the laws to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.
“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis says during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
Francis acknowledges that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and he himself referred to the issue in terms of “sin.” But he attributes such attitudes to cultural backgrounds, and says bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.
“These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he says, adding that they should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”
Francis’ comments are the first uttered by a pope about such laws, but they are consistent with his overall approach to the LGBTQ community and belief that the Catholic Church should welcome everyone and not discriminate.
Zahava Galon, the former head of the left-wing Meretz party, sparks an outcry after posting a picture of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir speaking at a press conference with his arm raised, as if in a Nazi salute.
Galon captioned the photo “Heil Kahane,” a reference to Ben Gvir’s mentor, Rabbi Meir Kahane, a one-time member of Knesset and founder of the racist Kach party, who was assassinated at a New York City hotel in November 1990 by an Egyptian-American jihadist.
Ben Gvir, the far-right head of the Otzma Yehudit party, has since said that he no longer follows Kahane’s policies.
Culture and Sports Minister Miki Zohar from the Likud party condemned the post, calling it “pure incitement and blatant racism.”
בת להורים ניצולי שואה, מוזילה ודוקרת את ששת מיליוני הקדושים. זהבה, מה אמא ואבא היו אומרים על זה? pic.twitter.com/W1q0QwV3sw
— איתמר בן גביר (@itamarbengvir) January 25, 2023
Ben Gvir retweeted the Galon’s post with the caption: “The daughter of Holocaust survivors cheapens and stabs at their memory. Zahava what would your mother and father say?”
Galon later deleted the tweet, saying she was “still waiting for racism to be deleted from the Knesset.”
Police publish footage of the Palestinian thought to have been armed who was shot in the Shuafat refugee camp.
The video shows the suspect pointing what appears to be a gun at the forces, then running away as officers open fire.
At one point he throws the item away, before collapsing.
The “gun” later turns out to be fake and not a real firearm, a police spokesperson says.
Police publish a video of the Palestinian who was shot in the Shuafat refugee camp, while it appeared he was armed with a gun. The weapon later turned out to be fake. pic.twitter.com/hrHrCEX2lr
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) January 25, 2023
The suspect is listed in critical condition after being shot.
Iran imposes sanctions on 34 individuals and entities from the European Union and Britain in reaction to similar measures taken over Tehran’s response to months-long protests.
The sanctions include financial measures, including blocking accounts and transactions in Iran’s banking systems, as well the “prohibition of visa issuance and entry” to Iran, the foreign ministry says in a statement.
Police say one officer is lightly hurt after Palestinians hurled pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails during the demolition of a gunman’s home in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp.
The officer has been taken to a hospital for further medical treatment.
Police add that officers opened fire at a suspect who appeared to have been armed with a gun and was aiming it at the forces during the operation, but later the item was found to be a “dummy weapon.”
The man is reported to be critically hurt, according to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry.
Forces are wrapping up the demolition of the home of Udai Tamimi, the gunman who killed Sgt. Noa Lazar at a nearby checkpoint last year.
One man has been taken for questioning at the scene, police add.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says he will keep going up to the Temple Mount, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Jordan’s King Abdullah II that he would preserve the status quo at the holy site.
“I manage my own policy concerning the Temple Mount, not that of the Jordanian government,” Ben Gvir tells the Kan public broadcaster. “I went up to the Temple Mount; I will continue to go up to the Temple Mount.”
“With all due respect to Jordan, Israel is an independent country,” he says.
Earlier this month Ben Gvir made a provocative visit to the site, drawing condemnations from Jordan and across the Arab world.
Under an arrangement that has prevailed for decades under Jordan’s custodianship, Jews and other non-Muslims are permitted to visit the Temple Mount during certain hours but may not pray there. In recent years, Jewish religious nationalists, including members of the new governing coalition, have increasingly visited the site and demanded equal prayer rights for Jews there, infuriating the Palestinians and Muslims around the world.
Ahead of Ben Gvir’s tour, Amman had signaled that a visit by the minister or moves violating the status quo would have far-reaching consequences, including the possibility of a diplomatic downgrade.
AP contributed to this report
Palestinian media say a man has been shot and critically hurt during clashes with Israeli police in East Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp.
Forces are in the area to demolish the home of Udai Tamimi, the gunman who killed Sgt. Noa Lazar at a nearby checkpoint last year.
There is no immediate comment from police on the incident.
من مكان إصابة شاب بالرصاص الحي الذي أطلقه جنود الاحتلال تجاهه في مخيم شعفاط بالقدس المحتلة قبل قليل. pic.twitter.com/tjRQJsmvcZ
— شمس نيوز SHMS NEWS (@shmsnews) January 25, 2023
A Jewish group that commissioned a survey on Holocaust awareness in the Netherlands says that the results showed “a disturbing lack of awareness of key historical facts about the Holocaust,” prompting calls for better education in the nation that was home to diarist Anne Frank and her family.
The survey commissioned by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany finds that the number of respondents who believe the Holocaust is a myth was higher than in any of the other five nations previously surveyed.
In the survey, 23% of adults under age 40 and 12% of all respondents indicate they believed the Holocaust was a myth or that the number of Jews killed has been greatly exaggerated.
“Not only is this downright shocking, it’s very serious,” Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius says on Twitter. “Almost a quarter of the Dutch people born after 1980 think that the Holocaust is a ‘myth’ or that it is heavily ‘exaggerated.’ As a society, we have a lot of work to do. And fast, too.”
The survey also finds that 54% of all respondents — and 59% of those under age 40 — do not know that 6 million Jews were murdered. Some 29 percent believe that the figure is 2 million or fewer.
Kyiv welcomes Germany’s decision to greenlight Leopard 2 tank deliveries to Ukraine, following weeks of pressure from allies.
“The first step on tanks has been taken. Next — the ‘tank coalition.’ We need a lot of Leopards,” the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration Andriy Yermak says on social media, referring to other countries that have said they would also send the tanks with Berlin’s approval.
The Shin Bet security agency says Israel is revoking the entry permits to Israel from 230 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, relatives of Hamas members who allegedly worked to recruit West Bank Palestinians to help commit attacks.
In a statement, the Shin Bet says in recent weeks dozens of Palestinians had been arrested and questioned over their alleged ties with Hamas operatives in Gaza.
The agency says many of the young suspects were unaware that Hamas was using them to advance attacks against Israeli targets.
According to the Shin Bet, the Hamas operatives hid their real identities by masquerading as companies and other entities, while recruiting West Bank Palestinians for paid work.
The Palestinians in the West Bank would be tasked with transferring funds intended for purchasing weapons or delivering packages of weapons and ammunition, it says.
“All this is without the couriers being aware, in most cases, that they are transferring weapons or are involved in terror activity,” the Shin Bet says.
The agency says the operation was led by Farah Hamed, 45, a Hamas member from the West Bank town of Silwad who was deported to Gaza as part of the 2011 Shalit deal.
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