Israel Arrests 24 Suspected Members of 'Vast Hamas Network' in West Bank

The IDF says it uncovered infrastructure funded and directed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Qatar. Hamas says the arrests won't deter Palestinian attackers.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Masked Hamas gunmen hold weapons during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the group in Gaza City, 2014.Credit: AP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The Israeli army arrested 24 Hamas activists in the Qalqilya area in the West Bank on Tuesday night, the Shin Bet security agency reported.  Those detained acted to renew the activities of Hamas in the city and surrounding villages under the direction of the Hamas headquarters in Gaza and Qatar, the Shin Bet said.

During the operation, the Israel Defense Forces confiscated over 35,000 shekels ($9,000) in cash. The Hamas' infrastructure in the Qalqilya area is considered the oldest of its groups in the West Bank, according to the Shin Bet.  

The IDF arrested another 12 Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

The Israeli army and Shin Bet have conducted a number of arrest operations since the latest wave of violence and terror began in October, in particular against Hamas militants who have tried to use the latest escalation to rebuild the organization's base in the West Bank.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Tuesday that since the latest wave of Palestinian violence  began there have been no terror attacks conducted by terrorist organizations, except for the murder of the Eitam and Naama Henkin on October 1, which was carried out by a Hamas cell.

Ya'alon says the violence started on September 11 with confrontations that Friday morning on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem after young men barricaded themselves in with explosives and rocks.

"This is not organizational operations, and that is why the attacks are mostly stabbings. The inability of the terrorist organizations to carry out serious attacks - shooting, including suicide [attacks] -  is the result of our preventative actions," Ya'alon told reporters on Monday.  "We have found ourselves facing a wave in which there is a difficulty in locating the individual who intends to carry out an attack, but in this case too  we have succeeded in arresting individuals before the act," he added.  The latest incidents are "viral," and have been partly  influenced by the clips on the Internet from ISIS too, said Ya'alon.

The IDF is preparing to call up four reserve battalions in early 2016  in order to free up some of the regular troops, who were brought in to combat the wave of terror, for training.

Hamas said in an announcement on its official website that the "Israeli arrests last night against Hamas activists in the West Bank will not succeed in suppressing the Intifada."

Hamas spokesman Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed the arrests, and said at  a press conference on Tuesday that the arrests, surveillance and other acts of repression by the occupation will only increase the determination to continue the uprising, and "the occupation  will pay the price for its crimes."