The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has thwarted an attempt by Palestinian Islamic Jihad to establish terror infrastructure in the West Bank to carry out attacks against Israel, it announced on Monday.
Palestinians living in Jenin and nearby villages were recruited by PIJ operatives from the Gaza Strip over social media by an operative identified as Ahmad Nabil Ahmad Judeh. Living in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, he is in charge of identifying and recruiting people to the terror group.
Judeh is said to have acted on behalf of Jihad Shaker Diab Ganam, a senior PIJ official living in Rafah.
“This is a thwarting of a terrorist cell that acted with the direct intention of PIJ operatives from the Gaza Strip in order to promote attacks against Israeli targets,” the Shin Bet said.
Among those arrested was 40-year-old Yasmeen Shaaban, a mother of four from the village of Jalama near Jenin. She had previously been in prison for her involvement in planning a suicide bombing.
According to the investigation, Shaaban acted as an intermediary between Judeh and operatives in the West Bank. She also helped them to transfer money as well as smuggle weapons and ammunition.
Shaaban’s arrest and interrogation played “a key factor” in breaking the cell, the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The investigation into the cell led to the arrest of about seven recruits from the West Bank, including Muhammad Yassin, a resident of the village of Deir Abu Daif near Jenin, who recruited a number of other people from his village. They were also arrested by Israeli security forces.
Yassin and members of his cell received training materials from the Gaza Strip and manufactured a high-quality rocket-like explosive device with which they planned to carry out an attack on farmers in the area, the agency said.
An indictment was filed against Shaaban and Yassin last week in a military court in the Samaria region of the West Bank for serious security offenses. Other indictments were filed against the other four cell members as well.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailed the arrests, saying, that “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.”
“This is the foiling of a terror cell that acted with the direct intention of PIJ operatives from the Gaza Strip in favor of promoting attacks against Israeli targets,” the Shin Bet said.
According to the security agency, there’s been a “shift in the intentions” of terror groups in Gaza to exploit Palestinians living in the West Bank to promote and carry out terror activity.
“This is a systematic and extensive activity that is being driven by organizations, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to destabilize the entire region,” it said, adding that “the Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police will continue their determined work to identify and thwart any terror activity aimed at harming the security of Israeli citizens.”