The Shin Bet and Israel Defense Forces arrested seven members of a Hamas-affiliated terrorist cell between December and March of this year, it was revealed on Wednesday following the lifting of a gag order.
The suspects are all Palestinian residents of the West Bank city of Qalqilyah, among them one Israeli citizen who allegedly served as the group's point man.
According to the Shin Bet, the cell members revealed under questioning that they had prepared improvised explosive devices, based on fertilizer and other materials, and planned to perpetrate a shooting attack or plant bombs against “Israeli targets.” A statement published by the Shin bet also noted that the cell was planning to purchase arms "whose source was in Israel.”
The Israeli citizen, Khaled Daoud, 21, resides periodically in Qalqilyah and also in the village of Bara. The rest of the suspects are all residents of Qalqilyah, including Salah Daoud, 30, who Shin Bet officials consider a prominent Hamas operative there.
The existence of the terror cell came to light during interrogation of individual suspects, Shin Bet officials said.
Khaled Daoud was given the task of obtaining the ingredients for preparing the IEDs, the Shin Bet said, adding that the cell members allegedly asked him to provide the funds for their activities. The Shin Bet also believes that Daoud offered the other cell members help from additional Hamas operatives.
Some of the cell members were arrested by the Palestinian security forces, and subsequently released to their homes. The Shin Bet claimed that they were released even though an electric detonator that “had been intended to serve as a remote detonating system for an explosive device” was found in the possession of some of them. IDF troops, with the Shin Bet’s involvement, arrested the cell members only later.
Daoud was arrested prior to the official raid, in November, and interrogated by the Shin Bet for alleged involvement in grave security offenses. Since the evidence against him was not conclusive, but in light of "confidential information that indicated the risk inherent in his release,” according to the statement, Daoud was put under administrative detention a month later.
Now, the security agency said, after it obtained sufficient evidence to indict Khaled Daoud, he was subsequently placed under arrest according to the ordinary arrest procedure. The Shin Bet said that Daoud will be indicted over the next few days, noting that the administrative detention order against him had been annulled.
The Shin Bet said that more indictments would be served against the remaining suspects.
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