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Shin Bet, cops to round up terror convicts with IS links in wave of arrests — TV

Officials estimate some 20-30 sleeper cells loyal to jihadist group exist in Israel; Interior Minister Shaked said to look into stripping loyalists of their citizenship

Police arrest an individual in connection with the Hadera attack, March 28, 2022. (Israel Police)
Police arrest an individual in connection with the Hadera attack, March 28, 2022. (Israel Police)

The Shin Bet and police were expected throughout Monday night to begin rounding up former terror convicts with Islamic State links and those investigated for suspected connections to the jihadist group, a day after two police officers were killed in a shooting attack by two Islamic State supporters who were Israeli citizens.

Border Police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, both 19, were laid to rest earlier on Monday.

Both of the terrorists were shot dead by members of a unit of undercover officers who were eating at a nearby restaurant, police officials said.

The Kan public broadcaster reported that those arrested overnight will be warned against taking part in terror activities, and anyone considered highly dangerous will be held in custody.

A security source quoted by the broadcaster said that, following Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s announcement earlier Monday, administrative detention will be used against high-risk suspects to prevent any further attacks.

According to a statement from Bennett’s office, he said the controversial practice — which allows Israeli authorities to hold suspects without charge and is typically deployed against Palestinians in the West Bank — should be used “in appropriate circumstances in which it is possible to present a proper legal basis.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with security officials following a deadly terror attack in Hadera on March 27, 2022. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The order came after Bennett met with top security officials for a situational assessment in the wake of the terror attack, the second within a week by Arab Israelis with ties to Islamic State.

In addition, the presence of security forces will immediately be bolstered, with a focus on areas where there is a threat of violence. The ramp-up will remain in place until Independence Day, which this year begins on the evening of May 4.

There is also to be monitoring of social networks to identify sources of incitement and potential attackers, with “appropriate action” taken against them, the statement said.

The report also said security services have a list of suspects with IS connections who possess weapons.

Meanwhile, the remand of five Umm al-Fahm residents arrested after Sunday’s attack in Hadera was extended by 10 days on Monday.

They have been barred from speaking with their lawyers, according to Hebrew media reports.

Three of the suspects are suspected of having Islamic State links, while the other two are suspected of being to connected the attack.

Israeli security forces at the scene of a shooting attack in Hadera, March 27, 2022. (Flash90)

Shin Bet sources quoted by Kan admitted that the internal security agency should have prevented the attack, but said that it is impossible to collect intelligence warning of such an incident without concrete evidence beforehand, a difficulty compounded by the fact that the terrorists were Israeli citizens.

A senior police official told Kan that authorities are worried that possible IS sleeper cells in Israel will execute further attacks, with Channel 12 reporting that officials are speculating that dozens of Israeli citizens have connections to the terror group.

According to Channel 13, some 20-30 such cells are believed to exist in Israel.

The shooting came days after a deadly terror attack in the southern city of Beersheba, which was also committed by a man who had previously attempted to join the jihadist group, raising concerns of further attacks inspired by the terrorist organization.

Officials quoted by Channel 13 estimated that Monday’s attack was inspired by the one in Beersheba.

It was also reported that considering the two terrorists’ actions during the attack, officials believe they were very prepared ahead of time, and possibly even scoped out the scene in advance.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked holds a press conference at the Knesset, on March 8, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Channel 12 reported that Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is looking into a way to strip Israelis with IS links of their citizenship.

According to the report, Shaked contacted Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara in a request to do so for 10 Israelis currently residing in Syria.

Shaked reportedly also contacted Shin Bet director Ronen Bar to examine whether there are IS loyalists in Israel who could be stripped of their citizenship on the basis of breach of trust and membership in a recognized terror group.

However, the report said, since Israeli law does not allow a person to be left without citizenship, Shaked will at most be able to downgrade their status to that of residents.

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