Gaza-run Hamas Cell Uncovered in Hebron, Israel's Shin Bet Says

The security agency says that one of the arrested men stored bomb-making materials at a school and set up his lab in a residential area

Explosives found in house of Hamas operative in Hebron, June 2019
IDF Spokesperson Unit

The Shin Bet security service said Tuesday it had uncovered a Hamas cell in Hebron whose members were plotting to carry out attacks in Jerusalem.

The suspects, who received orders from Hamas in the Gaza Strip, were arrested in June in a joint operation with the Israeli army and police, the Shin Bet said.

The suspects arrested include Rajah Rajbi, 22, a student at Hebron’s Polytechnic University. Rajbi belongs to a Hamas-linked student group and possessed a 3-kilogram (6.6-pound) explosive when he was arrested, the Shin Bet said.

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It said Rajbi was recruited by Hamas in Gaza to build explosives and received instructions from his operators in the Strip, adding that the confiscated device had pieces of metal attached to it to worsen the effect of any explosion.

Rajbi said under questioning that he had recruited a member of a student organization, Yousef Atrash, who helped him buy the materials used to make the bomb.

The Shin Bet said the lab where the bomb was made was built by Rajbi in a “civilian setting, endangering innocent civilian life in the area.” He stored bomb-making materials at a school near his home, the Shin Bet said.

The agency identified Rajbi’s operators as Karamzi al-Ok, 38, a Hamas activist from the Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem who had been expelled from the West Bank to Gaza, and Ahmed Kitri, 29, a member of Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza’s Jabalya refugee camp.

The Shin Bet said that in recent weeks several Hamas cells had been uncovered in the West Bank that took instructions from Gaza and planned to carry out attacks against Israeli and Palestinian Authority targets. These included kidnappings, shootings and stabbings, as well as the purchase of weapons and the recruitment of additional operatives to carry out attacks.