'Hamas Terror Cell' Indicted for Planning Attacks Against Synagogue in Israel

Shin Bet security service says three men received instructions via Facebook and planned abduction of an Israeli soldier as bargaining chip.

A prisoner in handcuffs (illustrative)
Eyal Warshavsky

Three members of an alleged Hamas terror cell were indicted in Haifa on Monday for planning attacks on various sites in northern Israel, including an army base, synagogue and several bus stations.

The Shin Bet security service said the men were all from the West Bank and had received their instructions from a Hamas operative in the Gaza Strip via Facebook.

Mamduah Yunis, 24, and brothers Hassan and Mohammed Zida’at, 23 and 25, respectively, were all indicted on security-related charges in Haifa District Court, after the Shin Bet allowed details of the case to be published.

According to the Shin Bet, the activists gathered intelligence in order to carry out attacks on a military base in the Kafr Kara area, a synagogue in Zichron Yaakov, the central bus station in Binyamina and a bus station in the Wadi Ara region – all places they were familiar with after working in Israel illegally between 2014 and 2015.

The security service added that the alleged terror cell began trying to manufacture explosives and purchasing combat materiel for its activities. The men allegedly collected fire extinguishers and motors from refrigerators in an attempt to fashion explosive devices. They stored them in a carpentry workshop in the Israeli Arab town of Arara, but didn’t carry out any attacks.

It was claimed that Hassan Zida’at initially made contact with a Gaza resident via Facebook, asking him to help set up the terror cell. According to the Shin Bet, the contact is a Hamas member.

Hassan Zida’at also allegedly received instructions for the planned abduction of an Israeli citizen in the Afula region, in northern Israel, as a potential bargaining tool – but that attack never took place, either.

Hassan Zida’at had previously fled to Israel and stayed in the Arara area after being accused of murder in the occupied territories. The Shin Bet said he headed the cell that was planning the attacks.