Israeli security forces indicted three Palestinians Monday, saying they were part of a Hamas terrorist cell planning to kidnap and kill Israelis in the West Bank and within Israel.
According to the indictment, Hamas officials in Gaza sent instructions to the terrorists via Facebook, explaining how to carry out shooting attacks, detonate explosives, and coordinate kidnappings around Hebron. The cell also scouted several locations within Israel for future attacks, including a bus station in Afula, a military base, the Binyamina Train Station, and a synagogue. The terrorists gained important information about the targets while working in Israel illegally.
To facilitate the attacks, the terrorists saved about $270 per month to buy weapons, build bombs and recruit other Palestinians.
"The uncovering of the infrastructure and activities it planned demonstrates the high threat level posed by Hamas militants, especially those who enter Israel and remain their illegally," according to the Shin Bet.
Israeli authorities have foiled several Hamas terrorist plots since the latest wave of Palestinian violence, which peaked in October 2015. While most attacks were largely individual terrorist initiatives, groups like Hamas and even Hizballah sought to hijack the popular uprising by planning and coordinating terrorist attacks. Both organizations failed to execute a sophisticated attack thus far due to vigilant Israeli intelligence practices.
In January 2016, Shin Bet foiled a Hamas terror cell seeking to kidnap and kill Israelis in hopes of using their victims' bodies to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. A similar motivation encouraged Hamas affiliated terrorists behind the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, which eventually led to a full-fledged war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
Palestinian terrorists continue to provoke Israel, launching a rocket Monday from Gaza into southern Israel and firing at Israeli soldiers working on the Gaza border fence. In response, the Israeli military targeted several Hamas positions in Gaza with airstrikes and artillery shells.
Last week, a senior Israeli military official told Israel's Channel 2 that Hamas has regained its military capabilities since the 2014 Gaza war. Hamas continues to invest considerable resources to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of civilian reconstruction efforts.
In the meantime, Hamas actively seeks to recruit and mobilize terrorists in the West Bank to form cells dedicated to killing Israelis in an effort to spark chaos and eventually take over the Palestinian Authority.