Monday, June 18, 2018

18-Jun-18: Large Hamas-aligned terror-attack-cell is busted in Nablus

Nablus [Image Source]
Uncommonly big by the standards of previous terror gang arrests, the discovery and busting of a highly active Hamas cell, operational since October 2017, was revealed yesterday (Sunday) after being suppressed since April by a court-imposed gag order.

The members of the gang had plans to carry out mass-scale bombings in Israel's major population centers.

Times of Israel reports: 
Israeli forces uncovered a large and highly active Hamas terror cell operating out of the Palestinian city of Nablus earlier this year that was allegedly planning to conduct a number of bombings and shooting attacks in Israel... The arrest of the more than 20 suspected cell members made this one of the largest busts by the Shin Bet in recent years... “In recent months, the Shin Bet, Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police uncovered a Hamas terror cell, extraordinary in its size and level of activity, which operated in the Nablus area... During the suspects’ interrogations by the Shin Bet, it was determined that the cell planned to carry out terrorist bombings in central cities in Israel and the northern West Bank, including a bombing in Tel Aviv, a suicide bombing and an explosive attack in Jerusalem, a bombing in the Itamar settlement and shooting attacks in the Samaria region,” the [Shin Bet] security service said... [It] arrested more than 20 suspected members of the Hamas cell in late April, including its two leaders: Mutassem Muhammad Salem, 35, and Fares Kamil Zebidi, 33. ["Shin Bet: Israel busted large Hamas cell planning Jerusalem, Tel Aviv bombings", Times of Israel, June 17, 2018]
Nablus, called Shechem in Hebrew and mentioned numerous times in Scripture, is about 50 km north of Jerusalem and has a mainly-Moslem population today of about 126,500. It's the second largest Palestinian Arab city in the area they call the West Bank.

Beyond being affiliated with Hamas, the terror cell, via its leader Salem, is thought to have had connections with the Syria-based terrorists Tahrir al-Sham, previously known as the Nusra Front.

The two indictments that were filed in the military court on Sunday are only the first in this bust. Others are expected to be filed in the coming days, with the expectation of more revelations. 

Most Israelis don't need much convincing to know that terrorist desires are deeply implanted and active in the Palestinian Arab communities bordering Israel's centers of population. Outside Israel, as Sunday's revelations show, there is far less awareness: so far at least, the scale of non-Israeli media interest in reporting the Nablus bust has been trivial-to-none.

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