Shin Bet Says Busted Hezbollah Cells in West Bank Plotting Terror Attacks

A group from Qalqilyah in the West Bank was allegedly instructed to perpetrate an attack against soldiers, and an additional number were recruited by a Hezbollah activist in Gaza to carry out shootings and suicide attacks.

A Facebook page allegedly used by Hezbollah to recruit Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Shin Bet security service said on Tuesday that it has arrested several Palestinians in the West Bank on suspicion of plotting attacks at the instructions of Hezbollah.

According to the security agency, the purported cell members were located and recruited mostly through Facebook. Hezbollah also contacted Israeli Arabs on social media, the Shin Bet said, without elaborating whether any Israeli Arabs were arrested. 

A purported cell from Qalqilyah in the West Bank was instructed to perpetrate an attack against soldiers, according to the Israeli security service. The Shin Bet identified the head of that ring as Mustafa Hindi, 18, from Qalqilyah, and says he was recruited via his Facebook profile.

Hindi was allegedly in touch with his Hezbollah operator, dubbed "Bilal" on Facebook, and later via an email account that he opened on Hezbollah's instructions.

According to the Shin Bet, Hindi was instructed to recruit a cell of militants to carry out activities against Israeli targets including shootings at an IDF patrol in the Qalqilyah area.

Hindi is said to have recruited a number of Palestinians from his hometown, and began collecting information about army patrols in the area and to train cell members in shooting and the use of improvised explosives.

Members of that cell were arrested at the start of June before carrying out any of the attacks they had plotted. Indictments against them have been submitted to military tribunals. 

An additional number of Palestinians were recruited by a Hezbollah member in Gaza to carry out shootings and suicide attacks, according to the Shin Bet. One of the suspects, Osama Najem, 36, of the northern West Bank, was arrested half a year ago and has already been indicted.

The Shin Bet claims that Hezbollah paid Najem $900 and gave him instructions to carry out attacks, including a suicide bombing on an Israeli bus. He subsequently began to establish a cell within the West Bank to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

The Shin Bet statement mentioned a Palestinian from Jenin as having also been recruited by Hezbollah and instructed to purchase an M-16 to shoot IDF forces. The organization says the Palestinian recruit in Jenin was promised 30,000 shekels for the prospective attack. He was arrested at the end of May and has been indicted.

The Shin Bet says that the arrests of these Palestinians prevented them from carrying out attacks against Israelis.

Hezbollah also got in touch with Israeli Arabs via pro-Palestinian Facebook profiles, in an attempt to recruit them for terrorist operations, the Shin Bet said.

The Shin Bet had these Israeli citizens sign a statement that they are aware that any continued contact via Facebook with the Hezbollah people would be in violation of the law.

"Hezbollah has made intensive efforts to recruit activists from Israel Israel, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets," the Shin Bet says.

"In recent years Hezbollah's Unit 133 has been trying to establish terrorist infrastructure in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, thus far, without any success. As a part of these attempts, the organization uses the internet to instruct members to carry out attacks on Israeli targets and set up terrorist groups in order to carry out attacks."