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Shin Bet says it busted West Bank terror cell that planned bomb attack

Security agency says 40-year-old mother of 4 from Jenin area was in contact with members of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, passed instructions to local cell members

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

Muhammad Yassin and Yasmin Shaaban, two suspects arrested over an alleged bombing attack planned by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror cell in the West Bank, in a photo combination released on April 25, 2022. (Shin Bet)
Muhammad Yassin and Yasmin Shaaban, two suspects arrested over an alleged bombing attack planned by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror cell in the West Bank, in a photo combination released on April 25, 2022. (Shin Bet)

The Shin Bet security service said Monday that it recently foiled an attempt by the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group to enlist residents of the West Bank to commit attacks against Israeli targets.

The agency said several Palestinians from the Jenin area — including Yasmin Shaaban, a 40-year-old mother of four — were detained for planning a bombing attack against Israeli farmers in the area.

It accused Islamic Jihad operatives in Gaza of directing the cell to build explosive devices to use in an attack. Footage released by the agency allegedly showed the members testing out an explosive device that was shaped similarly to a rocket.

Shaaban was accused of passing information between Islamic Jihad members in Gaza and members of the cell in the West Bank. Her interrogation led to the arrest of seven others, who were allegedly part of the cell, the Shin Bet said.

According to the agency, Shaaban was an Islamic Jihad operative who was previously jailed for involvement in planning a suicide bombing, under the direction of members of the terror group in Gaza.

On April 20, Shaaban was formally indicted in the case. Five others have also been indicted since, over what the Shin Bet said were “serious security offenses.”

Among those charged is Muhammad Yassin, a Palestinian from the town of Deir Abu Da’if, accused of recruiting several others from his town, who were also detained.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailed the arrests, saying, “The Shin Bet and security forces are in constant pursuit of Palestinian terror cells that are planning to murder us. We won’t let up the pressure.”

“Every terrorist should know… that ultimately we’ll put our hands on him,” he added.

The agency said that in recent years it had identified “constant” attempts by Gaza-based terror groups to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank for attacks.

“This is systematic and extensive activity that is being driven by organizations, including the Islamic Jihad organization, in order to destabilize the entire region,” the Shin Bet said.

Materials allegedly used in an explosive device that the Shin Bet security agency says was set up by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror cell in the West Bank, in a photograph released on April 25, 2022. (Shin Bet)

The Jenin area has been seen as a major hotspot for terror in recent months. Two perpetrators of recent attacks — Ra’ad Hazem, who killed three Israelis in Tel Aviv, and Diaa Hamarsheh, whose shooting spree left five dead in Bnei Brak — hailed from Jenin and its environs.

Israeli troops entering Jenin and the surrounding villages have increasingly been caught in gunfights in recent months. Although the Palestinian Authority launched an operation in the governorate last year to restore order, analysts say Ramallah increasingly holds little sway in the area.

Earlier this month, Israeli troops attempted to arrest a team of terrorists near Jenin on their way to carry out an attack. Three Islamic Jihad members were killed in the ensuing firefight and four Israeli soldiers were injured.

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