Israel: Hamas Man Who Trained in Syria Arrested for Plotting Attacks

The Palestinian man traveled to Turkey and Syria to train before returning to West Bank, Shin Bet claim, blasting Hamas' operations abroad.

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian members of Hamas armed wing take part in the funeral of senior militant Mazen Fuqaha in Gaza City March 25, 2017.
FILE PHOTO: Palestinian members of Hamas armed wing take part in the funeral of senior militant Mazen Fuqaha in Gaza City March 25, 2017. MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS

A Palestinian man from the West Bank is accused of planning terror attacks against Israelis on orders of Hamas' international command, the Shin Bet said Wednesday after it was cleared for publication.

The man, Malak Kazmar, a resident of the Qalqilyah refugee camp, has lived in Turkish Northern Cyprus in recent years and was charged in a West Bank military court last week. According to his indictment, Kazmar received order from Hamas' leadership in Istanbul to lead attacks against Israelis and enlist others in the West Bank to do the same for Hamas.

Kazmar was enlisted to Hamas in 2015 while visiting Jordan, the Shin Bet claimed. In January 2016, he traveled to Syria where he underwent firearm and explosive training. The Shin Bet says that last year he travelled to Istanbul and trained with local Hamas men, learning how to carry out attacks and enlisting new operatives. He then returned to Cyprus, and later to the West Bank.

In February, Kazmar was arrested by Israel before making good on his plans and handed over hard drives with instructions and information he received from his handlers.

"This investigation highlights the activities of Hamas' command abroad, including on Turkish soil, led by Saleh Aruri," who they said heads a militant unit from abroad. "The heads of Hamas continue to use operative who return to the West Bank for terrorist purposes, while the leaders walk free abroad."

Last month, the head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, said the organization managed to foil over 400 potential terrorists last year before they could execute their plans. But “the quiet we have been experiencing now, and during 2016, is misleading for a simple reason: The infrastructure of Hamas and global jihad is constantly trying to mount attacks in Israeli territory. Sadly, during the last year, 16 people and one foreign national were killed by terror attacks in Israel.”

Argaman added that with Pesach coming next month, there was no question that the terrorism networks, notably the established ones – with an emphasis on Hamas – will be trying to inflame the situation on the ground and carry out attacks. The Shin Bet’s goal, he said, is to enable Israelis to have peaceful holidays.

From October 2015 and lasting into 2016, the pace of security-related events began to decelerate, Argaman told the committee. In January 2016, there were 132 terror attacks, a number that fell to 82 the following month – versus hundreds in October 2015 alone.