The Shin Bet security service announced Thursday that it had arrested several people suspected of belonging to a Hamas cell that was planning to kidnap Israelis and was “was in advanced stages of preparing a hiding place for the body or bodies of abducted victims.”
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According to the Shin Bet, the squad included six members, three of whom were residents of Israel living in Jerusalem, the others being from Hebron.
Heading the team was a 20-year-old resident of the Old City of Jerusalem who was released from prison in October 2015 after being convicted of violent activity on the Temple Mount. A further leader of the group was Maher Qawasmeh, a 36-year-old Hebron resident who had also spent two years in prison for his part in planning terrorist activity on behalf of Hamas.
The Shin Bet said that Qawasmeh taught the Jerusalem residents how to prepare explosive charges. They agreed to carry out an abduction, for which they searched for caves in the Hebron area in which they planned to hide the bodies of whomever they abducted.
The Shin Bet said that even after the arrest of the Israeli residents, Qawasmeh continued in his attempts to carry out an attack, this time with explosive devices. Group members started purchasing chemicals and fertilizers from which they unsuccessfully tried to prepare explosives.
“This affair emphasizes yet again Hamas’s intent to carry out serious attacks even at the present time in which it is in distress, in order to turn the current terror wave into a full-blown violent intifada. This affair illustrates the reliance of Hamas cells from the territories on Israeli residents living in Jerusalem, since the latter enjoy free mobility and have a good command of Hebrew.”