Israeli security forces broke up a Palestinian cell whose teenage members are suspected of stabbing IDF soldiers last month, leading investigators to a second group that allegedly planned a kidnapping operation in the West Bank, the Shin Bet security service revealed Tuesday.
On March 2, two of the suspects stabbed and lightly wounded two IDF soldiers in their guard post near the Har Bracha settlement in the northern West Bank, the Shin Bet said.
The two suspects, both 15 years old, fled the scene of the attack and evaded initial capture during a large-scale manhunt conducted by Israeli forces. A third suspect, 14, revealed to police interrogators that he too had been involved in the attack.
The Shin Bet did not detail what led agents to the suspects, saying only that the arrests had taken place “throughout the month of March.”
All three came from the village of Irak Burin, northwest of the Har Bracha settlement in the northern West bank.
Their arrest and testimonies led the Shin Bet, police and IDF to a second terror cell in Irak Burin, whose members had ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas.
Sa’ad Hossam Ahd Fakeeh, a member of the PFLP, told interrogators he planned to kidnap a settler from the Har Bracha community in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, the Shin Bet said.
Fakeeh, 30, planned to carry out the kidnapping operation with help from a man named Malkh Fateh Ismail Qadous.
In addition, Fakeeh intended to carry out a stabbing attack on an IDF soldier in order to steal his service weapon, the Shin Bet said.
Qadous, 25, has ties to the Hamas terrorist organization and planned to carry out his own stabbing and shooting attack on IDF troops, the Shin Bet said.
The 14-year-old suspect told interrogators he was involved in Qadous’s and Fakeeh’s plots as well.
“The results of the investigation of those involved will be handed over in the coming days to military prosecutor in order to craft the indictment against them,” the Shin Bet said.