Shin Bet says it arrested 3 members of Hamas terror network in West Bank
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Shin Bet says it arrested 3 members of Hamas terror network in West Bank

Cell run by operatives in Gaza Strip alleged to have recruited engineering students at Birzeit University through Facebook to carry out attacks beyond Green Line

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers seen loading Hamas flags during a patrol at Birzeit University, on the outskirts of the city of Ramallah in the West Bank during an operation on June 19, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli soldiers seen loading Hamas flags during a patrol at Birzeit University, on the outskirts of the city of Ramallah in the West Bank during an operation on June 19, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The Shin Bet security service announced Wednesday that it had arrested three Palestinians in the West Bank that been recruited by a network of Hamas military wing members in the Gaza Strip to carry out attacks beyond the Green Line.

Their cell is alleged to have been established in 2015 and has been devoting particular efforts to recruit engineering students at Birzeit University outside Ramallah, who could be useful in executing attacks and transferring “terror funds.”

The security agency said it has arrested dozens of the network’s other members since its founding, but that recently the network has stepped up its activity in the West Bank.

The Shin Bet arrested three Palestinians from the West Bank during July and August who were indicted on various terror charges in September.

Two of them —  21-year-old Issa Shalalda and 20-year-old Omar Ma’soud — were active in the Hamas-affiliated Islamic bloc at Birzeit University. According to the Shin Bet, the pair underwent military training during their recruitment.

The third member indicted was Hazem Hamayel, a resident of the northern West Bank. The 24-year-old is alleged to have attempted to carry out a terror attack after being in contact with a Hamas official in Gaza who used a Facebook account under a fake identity.

“The activity of the terror infrastructure in Gaza, along with additional Hamas activity from the Gaza Strip, is an inseparable part of Hamas’s attempts to undermine stability in the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

In June, the Shin Bet revealed that its agents uncovered a large and highly active Hamas terror cell operating out of the Palestinian city of Nablus earlier this year that was allegedly planning to conduct a number of bombings and shooting attacks in Israel and the northern West Bank.

The Shin Bet said it arrested more than 20 suspected members of the Hamas cell in late April, including its two leaders: Mutassem Muhammad Salem, 35, and Fares Kamil Zebidi, 33. According to the security service, the cell began operating in October 2017.

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