Shin Bet nabs 7 members of Hamas cell said planning bombing and shooting attacks

Security agency says men from Nablus area and Hebron were directed and funded by Gaza-based terror group and planned to target Israelis and destabilize West Bank

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Members of a Hamas cell arrested by Israeli security forces in the West Bank in September 2022. (Shin Bet)
Members of a Hamas cell arrested by Israeli security forces in the West Bank in September 2022. (Shin Bet)

Israeli security forces broke up an alleged Hamas terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks in the West Bank, arresting seven of its members earlier this month, the Shin Bet security service revealed Monday.

The cell received its directions from Yahya Amer Muhammad Abu Saifan, 26, a Hamas terrorist living in the Gaza Strip involved in recruiting Palestinians in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said.

The Shin Bet said the seven members, from the Nablus area and Hebron, had practiced shooting and had conducted tests with explosive devices. Several firearms and materials used for making explosives were seized following their arrests.

The service said Abu Saifan had provided the cell with instructions and funding to purchase materials for building bombs.

The members of the cell, Masab Himouni, Ahmed Abu Daoud, Izz a-Din a-Zin, Imad Abu Khalaf, and Abdullah Quasma from Hebron, and Mamoun Hanani and Kamaal Hanani, from the village of Beit Furik near Nablus, were charged with serious security offenses, the Shin Bet said.

Guns seized by Israeli security forces from members of a Hamas cell in the West Bank in September 2022. (Shin Bet)

The service warned that the Gaza-based terrorist group was increasingly trying to carry out attacks in the West Bank and Israel.

“These arrests and investigations reveal, once again, the continuous efforts of Hamas operatives from the Gaza Strip and abroad, whose goal is to destabilize the [West Bank] and raise the level of violence on the ground, while recruiting terrorist operatives in the [West Bank] in order to advance attacks,” the Shin Bet said.

The arrests came at a time of rising violence.

Israeli troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in the West Bank, during a months-long effort against Palestinian terrorists. The military launched the operation after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.

In raids across the West Bank early Monday, troops detained 14 wanted Palestinians, the IDF said.

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, September 19, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

At least 98 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces so far this year, according to a tally from the PA health ministry.

According to the army most were armed Palestinians or ones who’d carried out attacks, as well as teens who violently protested Israeli raids, but the number also included some bystanders, among them veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, whose death was deemed an accident by the IDF.

More than 2,000 suspects have been detained since the beginning of the year, according to the Shin Bet security agency.

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