The Shin Bet security service on Monday accused the Hamas terror group of recruiting minors to carry out attacks on Israeli targets, saying it had recently arrested two such suspects.
“The investigation determined that the minors were recruited through an online network to advance terrorist activities by Hamas officials from the [Gaza] Strip,” the security agency said.
According to the Shin Bet, the underage suspects, from the Palestinian village of Beit Ummar northwest of Hebron, were arrested in October but details of the case were barred from publication until they were indicted earlier this month.
One of the suspects was 16 years old. The other’s age was not provided, though the Shin Bet said he too was a minor.
The suspects told interrogators that they had planned to kidnap an Israeli citizen from a settlement near their village. They had also been instructed to carry out a variety of missions on behalf of Hamas, including gathering intelligence on Israel Defense Forces activities in the area and on nearby Israeli settlements — taking photographs of the communities of Bat Ayin and Kfar Etzion — as well as planning to eventually carry out shooting attacks, the Shin Bet said.
“During the minors’ interrogation by the Shin Bet, it emerged that they were meant to receive weapons, ammunition, uniforms and money in order to advance terrorist activities in the West Bank,” the security service said.
When the suspects were arrested, they were found to be in possession of low-grade explosives, walkie-talkies and a knife.
The suspects, whose names have not been released, were recruited by Bilal Kardi, a resident of the Gaza Strip, who serves in Hamas’s cyber unit, according to the Shin Bet.
The two were indicted in a military juvenile court in the central Judea region of the West Bank.
“The investigation shows the level of unrestrained efforts by Hamas to advance terror attacks and to build terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank while taking advantage of minors and harming their families,” the Shin Bet said.