Security forces intercepted a Palestinian squad that attempted to kidnap Israeli citizens in the West Bank, the Shin Bet indicated on Sunday, adding that the squad's purpose was to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jail.
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The squad was arrested in an operation two months ago, according to the Shin Bet, and included nine members, all residents of the West Bank city of Ramallah and its whereabouts. It was led by 22-year-old Muhammad Ramadan, a resident of the West Bank town of al-Bireh.
Ramadan and several other squad members were indicted of aggravated abduction in the Judea military court two weeks ago, with two other Palestinians linked to the kidnapping attempts indicted for aiding the squad by informing them of approaching Israeli vehicles.
According to the indictment, squad members attempted to kidnap Israelis on three different occasions, driving a rental car and equipped with a taser, tear gas, clubs and a replica gun.
In all three tries, according to the indictment, squad members drove to the Binyamin area of the West Bank, in an attempt to stun Israeli drivers and hide them in a cave or a safe house.
They then planed to film their victim, and upload the video to the internet in order to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners with Israeli authorities.
In the first attempt described in the indictment, which took place on March 11, the squad assaulted an Israeli driver on the road from the village of Rantis to the settlement of Kiryat Sefer. Blocking his car, squad members tried to pull the driver out, but he ultimately got away.
On the following day, the suspects allegedly attacked a female Israeli driver travelling on the road leading to the settlement of Ma'ale Levona. As in the previous attempt, the car was blocked, with squad members trying to shatter her windshield. The driver managed, however, to escape.
The third attempt took place three days later, on March 15, when squad members blocked the car of a woman driving with her baby on the road from Givat Asaf to Beit El.
This time, the squad managed to shatter the windshield, but ultimately fled the scene after another Israeli vehicle arrived at the spot.
Members of the squad have also been linked to other kidnapping attempts, such as a plan to pick up hitchhikers in a Mishor Adumim gas station during the month of March. A man who had intended to get into the Palestinian car was blocked from doing so by a friend.
Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz that Palestinian Authority security forces recently arrested several Palestinians who had planned to kidnap Israeli soldiers, and that they were part of the same squad.