Israeli security forces arrested dozens of members of a Hamas cell that was in the advanced stages of planning major terror attacks in the West Bank and Israel, the Shin Bet security service said Monday.
The effort to uncover the cell has been ongoing for several months, first coming to light with a round of arrest raids in September, including one in which two Israeli soldiers were seriously injured and several Palestinian suspects were killed in gunfights.
According to the Shin Bet, over 50 Hamas operatives were arrested across the West Bank for suspected involvement in the cell and large quantities of weaponry was seized, including the materials needed to make at least four explosive belts for suicide attacks. An undisclosed amount of money that was allegedly used by the cell was also seized in the raids, according to the Shin Bet.
“You thwarted a large infrastructure, some of which you know was ready to go with explosive belts… grenades and other explosives,” IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi told the military commanders whose units took part in the raids.
The Shin Bet’s announcement about the discovery of the Hamas cell came a day after a member of the terror group in Jerusalem carried out a shooting attack in the Old City, killing one man, Eli Kay, and injuring four people.
Israeli officials generally believe that Hamas is looking to carry out attacks in the West Bank and in Israel while maintaining relative calm in the Gaza Strip, where the group serves as the de facto ruler.