Israel thwarts Hamas moves to spread influence in West Bank – Arab-Israeli Conflict

Palestinian students supporting Hamas demonstrate in the West Bank city of Hebron.
(photo credit:REUTERS)

Several Hamas networks run by university students in the West Bank have been uncovered by Israel’s security agencies, the Shin Bet security service announced on Sunday.

According to the Shin Bet, a number of students from Bir Zeit University were detained last month in a joint operation with the IDF and Israel Police for their role in rallies, recruiting and financial activities for Hamas, in a bid to consolidate the terror group’s hold on the region.

More recently, members of a Hamas cell which carried out extensive terror activity in the region were arrested, the statement said.

During the investigation it was discovered that members of the cell, residents of the West Bank’s Binyamin Region, planted bombs, threw Molotov cocktails at IDF forces operating in the area, and were involved in the attacks on the town of Har Adar near Jerusalem in 2015.  An additional investigation found that the cell members had also planned to perpetrate more shooting attacks.

20 year-old Muhammad Aazi, a resident of the village of Jamma’in and a Hamas operative, was arrested along with 22 year-old Noor Din Get, a resident of Hebron, for planning to carry out an attack against Israeli targets.

According to the Shin Bet, it was discovered during the investigation that they had planned to carry out a shooting attack against both civilian and IDF vehicles traveling on main roads in the area and had carried out reconnaissance on the road and had deliberately scattered metal nails on the road in order to cause vehicles to stop and carry out the shootings.

The weapons bought to carry out the attack were seized during the investigation.

In addition, the Shin Bet said that the cell had planned to create explosive devices in order throw at Israeli targets, and conducted tests of the devices prior to their arrest. The two were also said to be planning to plant an explosive canister at the entrance to a village and explode it against a military vehicle, the Shin Bet said.

Since the beginning of the latest wave of violence to hit Israel and the West Bank, numerous attacks by Hamas supporters and members have been thwarted in the West Bank. In January Israeli security forces arrested 13 Hamas operatives operating in the West Bank’s Binyamin region attempting to establish terror infrastructure and undermine the Palestinian Authority.

Birzeit University near Ramallah is known for its Hamas support, and Hamas won its student elections two years in a row.

“The Shin Bet, together with the IDF will continue to work with determination to thwart and foil terror activities,” the statement concluded.

A military court is expected to issue an indictment against the suspects in the coming days.

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