Over the past several months, Israeli security forces have arrested members of a Hamas cell that was in the West Bank that had planned to carry out suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa, the Shin Bet security service disclosed on Thursday, adding that the cell consisted of more than 20 Hamas members.
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The Shin Bet said that cell set up a laboratory in Nablus about six months ago, where they produced about 7 kilograms (more than 15 pounds) of TATP explosives that was used to prepare explosive devices. The devices were allegedly to be used by suicide bombers who were to blow themselves up in crowded areas of Jerusalem and Haifa and to set off explosions at bus stops.
Four suicide bombers had been recruited for the task, the Shin Bet said. The cell allegedly planned to use oxygen tanks in the suicide bombings and to enhance the lethal effect of the expositions with metal shrapnel.
The cell also allegedly acquired M16 rifles to be used to carry out shooting attacks on Israelis. Cell members are said to have turned over explosive devices that were ready for use, along with M16 rifles, to Israeli authorities.
The cell had assistance from "a wide network of collaborators in various fields," who helped acquire and hide weapons, produce the explosives and transfer funds to finance the cell's operations, the Shin Bet said. Eight of those interrogated were questioned as collaborators.
A senior Shin Bet official said his agency's investigation revealed that the cell was hierarchical and well-organized and would have carried out major terrorist attacks if its plans had not been foiled by a joint effort by the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces.
"The investigation again reveals the major efforts that the Hamas terrorist organization is investing establishing infrastructure in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel."