The Shin Bet internal security agency, IDF and police captured a terrorist cell from the Ramallah area that tried on at least three occasions in March to abduct Israeli citizens in the West Bank, the Shin Bet revealed on Sunday.
The terror group, associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), planned to negotiate for the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails in exchange for the kidnapped citizens.
According to an indictment served against nine of those allegedly involved, the cell attempted to kidnap Israeli hitchhikers and motorists in the West Bank. Members of the cell hired vehicles and on at least three attempts were close to carrying out an abduction.
The indictment states that on the afternoon of March 11, cell members blocked a vehicle travelling to Kiryat Sefer, but the driver managed to escape. The next day, a driver on the road to Ma’aleh Levona found her car surrounded by a group of men who tried to break the windows, but she also was able to escape.
Their last attempt was on March 15, when a driver and her infant daughter were stopped near Beit El. This attempt was also unsuccessful.
The various kidnapping attempts, cell members reportedly told investigators, were foiled because the Israeli citizens involved acted effectively to prevent them.
The men were caught in possession of an electroshock weapon, mace, clubs and a fake gun. The Palestinians allegedly planned to hide their victims in nearby caves or an empty apartment.
Last October Israel released some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a soldier who was abducted by Hamas and held in captivity in Gaza for more than five years.