Israeli security forces have charged three members of a Hamas militant cell based in the West Bank city of Ramallah with allegedly plotting to abduct an Israel Defense Forces soldier, it emerged on Wednesday.
The three suspects, two of them residents of Ramallah and the other from the nearby village of Kafr Bidu, were arrested about two months ago. A gag order was slapped on the case until after the indictment was filed at an Israeli military court on Wednesday.
Palestinian and Israeli security sources told Haaretz last month that Hamas militants in the West Bank have resumed their efforts to kill Israeli soldiers or civilians and abduct their bodies.
The sources said Hamas activists believe they cannot keep Israeli hostages out of the Shin Bet and Palestinian Authority's reach for long. So they plan to kill them, abduct and bury the bodies, then negotiate for returning them to Israel.
Hamas headquarters in Damascus and Gaza are pressuring organization cells in the West Bank to kill Israelis and abduct their bodies, in view of the effect Gilad Shalit's abduction has had on Israeli public opinion. Another reason for the pressure is the failure of Shalit's abduction to bring the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, the sources told Haaretz.
Hamas planned similar attacks in the Ramallah area in the middle of the last decade. In the past year, attempting to rebuild the organization's military networks that were damaged during the second intifada, it has returned to this line of action.
The Palestinian Authority and Israel have recently captured in the Ramallah region alone about five cells planning to kill Israelis and abduct their bodies.
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