IDF - AP - September 2011
IDF soldiers on operational duty in the West Bank. Photo by AP
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The Israeli Shin Bet security service foiled a suicide terrorist attack last month in Jerusalem, it emerged Wednesday. An explosive belt was seized only 24 hours before the planned attack, after it was already smuggled into Jerusalem.

The interception of the planned attack was part of a large-scale operation by the Shin Bet, the IDF and the police against the Hamas military infrastructure in the West Bank and Jerusalem. During the operation, dozens of Hamas militants – operating in alleged 13 separate cells – were arrested.

The main cell charged with carrying out the attack was based in Hebron. The cell was in touch with the Hamas headquarters in Syria, and the date of the attack was set for August 21. The planned attack involved a fire extinguisher which contained six kilograms of explosives. The device was supposed to be carried by a suicide bomber in a bus or a mall in the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood in Jerusalem.

The same cell was responsible for the March 23 attack in the central bus station in Jerusalem, where Mary Jean Gardner, a British tourist, was killed, and 47 other people were injured.

The Shin Bet has recently noted significant attempts to restore Hamas' military infrastructure in the West Bank and execute terrorist attacks. The main goal, according to estimates, is kidnapping a soldier in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Another terrorist cell exposed by the Shin Bet was operated from within Ketziot prison. The group included about twenty militants, whose prime objective was to kidnap an IDF soldier for bargaining purposes.

Yet another cell that has been arrested recently operated from Hebron under directions from Hamas leadership in Gaza. The cell's objective was also to kidnap an IDF soldier, smuggle him into the Sinai and then back through the tunnels to the Gaza Strip. The head of the cell, Ahmad Madhoun, aged 44 from Hebron, received 10,000 dollars on a visit to Saudi Arabia to purchase weapons for the operation.