Israel foils Hamas plot to bomb Jerusalem, Tel Aviv
Joint investigation by Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police reveals Nablus-based cell of more than 20 terrorists who were planning to carry out a suicide bombing in the capital, remotely bomb Tel Aviv and settlement of Itamar; Netanyahu: 'That is the reason we will continue to maintain security control over the entire area west of the Jordan.’
During the investigation that has taken place in recent months, security forces found explosive devices, one of which was considered to be of a significantly high quality, weighing 10kg and which could be detonated remotely.
In addition, 15kg of explosive materials were also discovered in the terror cell’s possession, along with other materials required for producing explosives.
A firearm and bomb-manufacturing instructions were also found by the Israeli security forces, who disposed of the materials in a controlled explosion.
The terror cell had been operating since October last year until its members were arrested at the end of April two months ago.
Consisting of more than 20 terrorists, the majority of the terrorists in the cell were affiliated with Hamas, while some had a long history of taking part in terror activities, including the assembling of explosive materials and bombs.
The Shin Bet investigation revealed that the terrorists had conspired to carry out bombings in central cities throughout Israel, including in Tel Aviv and a suicide bombing in the capital. They also planned to bomb the Itamar settlement and commit shooting attacks in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
In addition to the central terror cell, security forces uncovered and foiled as part of their investigation another Hamas cell which was plotting to carry out attacks.
Two of the Hamas activists from Nablus who headed the main cell were responsible for producing the bombs and attempted to conscript more terrorists into their ranks. They were identified as Mutassem Salem, 35, and Fares Zawidi, 33.
An indictment will be submitted against Zawidi in the near future, but Salem has already been charged.
According to his indictment, the idea to carry out the attacks was conceived when Zawidi spoke to a member of the Al-Nusra Front in Syria using the Telegram messenger service.
The member is believed to have offered Salem $100,000 to produce a bomb and detonate it next to Israelis or IDF facilities. He is also charged of planning to shoot Israelis, and stands accused of obstructing justice and bringing “enemy funds” into the West Bank.
“The exposure of this affair demonstrates, once again, the will and the effort that Hamas invests in terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria in order to promote serious terror attacks in Israel,” a senior Shin Bet official said.
“The exposure of the infrastructure teaches us about the continued desire by Hamas to carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets, while undermining the relative calm that has been taking effect in recent days,” he went on, adding that the security forces will continue to act to prevent all terror-related acts being carried out against Israel
“We will continue, together with our partners in the IDF and the Israel Police, to act with determination to preemptively thwart terror infrastructure and the murderous intentions of Hamas and to bring members of the infrastructure to account.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also issued a statement, saying that the incident illustrated Israel’s need to maintain security control throughout the West Bank.
“The Shin Bet, the IDF and the Israel Police thwarted a Hamas terror cell which tried to carry out explosive attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from Nablus from inside Judea and Samaria,” the statement said.
“Hamas is trying to harm us both from Gaza and from Judea and Samaria. That is the reason that we will continue to maintain security control over the entire area west of the Jordan.”