Israel has arrested seven women who took part in a scheme to promote and aid the Hamas terror group in the West Bank city of Hebron, the Shin Bet security service said Tuesday.
The women and two men also involved in the network were arrested over the last several weeks and have been accused of working in coordination with Hamas officials in Gaza as well as abroad in order to promote terror activity, the security service said in a statement.
The network was allegedly used to transmit messages, transfer funds for terror activities, and coordinate operations.
The Shin Bet investigation found that the ring promoted Hamas activities in Hebron and recruited activists, coordinated with mosques and preachers, worked to increase support, and were involved in propaganda and incitement, as well as providing support to families of jailed terrorists.
A number of the activists were sent overseas to meetings with Hamas officials who were deported after being released from Israeli prison in 2011 in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
They also traveled to Turkey to receive funds for terror, messages, and instructions, according to the Shin Bet.
The network also allegedly tried to take control of municipal services in the city and run charity organizations. According to Israel’s Hadashot news, the purpose was to lay the groundwork for Hamas gains in the West Bank after Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas dies or retires.
Abbas’s Fatah faction is locked in a bitter battle with Hamas, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority has worked with Israel to crack down on Hamas activities in the West Bank.
“Uncovering this network proves once again that the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip and overseas is working to direct Hamas activities in the West Bank, using every tool at its disposal,” the Shin Bet statement said.
The Shin Bet named Nizar Shehada and Firas Abu Sharakh as the heads of the network. Both have both served time in Israeli jails for terror-related activities, accoridng to the release.
The two are accused of recruiting women to serve as the operational arm of the scheme. The women were led by Dina Karmi, whose husband Nashat Karmi was a Hamas leader who murdered four Israelis in an August 2010 terror attack. He was subsequently killed in exchange of fire with the IDF during an arrest raid.
The group allegedly recruited dozens of women to become “Hamas activists.”
Several of those arrested have been indicted in Judea Military Court for belonging to a terror group and holding office in an illegal organization.