checkpoint - Emil Salman - November 10 2010
An IDF checkpoint. Photo by Emil Salman
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The Shin Bet security service and Israel Defense Forces recently uncovered a Palestinian terror cell suspected of plotting to attack Israeli troops guarding checkpoints, as well as allegedly planning to abduct soldiers or settlers.

Four members of the cell, identified as activists in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were arrested three months ago and indicted in an IDF court this week, a gag order lifted on Monday revealed.

Three of the suspects had been jailed in Israel previously, and were active in the PFLP's recent protest against administration detention of Palestinians.

The cell allegedly began its activities this past April, according to the Shin Bet's investigation, with the plan of kidnapping a soldier or a settler to force Israel into an exchange for Palestinian prisoners, including senior PFLP commander Ahmed Sadaat, who has been linked to numerous terrorist activities including the assassination of late minister Rehavam Ze'evi.

The cell is also suspected of planning to shoot soldiers stationed at the Maccabim checkpoint near the city of Modi'in. Further Shin Bet investigations found that the cell had allegedly plotted to carry out a motorcycle drive-by shooting attack at the Jaba checkpoint northeast of Jerusalem, with the plan of then escaping to Ramallah. The shootings were allegedly planned as revenge attacks for any Palestinian prisoner who died during the mass hunger strike carried out in May.

The cell allegedly planned to use the weapons of one member, Yousef Alian, who worked as a security guard in the Palestinian Preventive Security Force. The weapons included an M-16, a short Kalashnikov rifle, a Jericho pistol, a Glock pistol, and an MP5 submachine gun. A Kalashnikov, a magazine, and a box of ammunition were discovered during the arrest of cell member Salam Diradisawi at his home in Ramallah.

"The affair reveals once against the efforts of terrorist organizations and the high motivations of their members to carry out abductions in order to bargain for the release of prisoners jailed in Israel," the Shin Bet said in a statement following publication.