Israeli security authorities arrested a suspected Palestinian member of Hizballah for planning terrorist attacks against Israelis, Israel's domestic security agency announced on Thursday.
A subsequent Shin Bet interrogation revealed that Hizballah recruited Yusef Yasser Suylam, 23, via Facebook page. Suylam hails from the West Bank town Qalqiliya.
Investigators say the Palestinian operative was responsible for establishing a cell devoted to kidnapping Israeli civilians. Hizballah also directed Suylam to conduct surveillance on Israeli military bases and other security sites, in addition to various places in Jerusalem.
After an Israeli military court filed an indictment, several felony charges are expected against the Palestinian terrorist.
Over the years, Hizballah has tried to establish a West Bank foothold to carry out terrorist and kidnapping attacks against Israelis. Members of Hizballah's Unit 133 external operations branch used social media, particularly Facebook, to recruit West Bank Palestinians.
Last August, a Shin Bet investigation found disrupted a terror cell that was recruited though the "Palestine the Free" Facebook page featuring anti-Israel Hizballah posts. Cell leader Mustafa Kamal Hindi recruited other operatives in hopes of waging a shooting attack against the Israeli military. Each operative was between the ages of 18-22 and lived in Qalqiliya.
One of the cell members purchased the material required to build a suicide bomb, while another was tasked with building the explosive device. Another terrorist focused on garnering intelligence about IDF patrols in the area. The group also began training with rifles for shooting attacks.
The characteristics, modus operandi, and recruitment methods match the description and reports surrounding recently arrested Yussef Suylam.
In January 2016, a Shin Bet investigation found that Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah's son, Jawan, used social media to recruit terrorists in the West Bank. Through encrypted email exchanges with a Hizballah handler, cell leader Muhammad Zaghloul received instructions for carrying out suicide-bombing attacks and provided a plan to kill an IDF officer. Zaghloul admitted that the cell conducted surveillance of the officer and requested $30,000 to purchase arms to kill him. The plot to kill Israeli troops was likely in the execution phase, considering the two operatives were arrested in possession of a firearm.
Click here to read more details about other Hizballah attempts at recruiting Palestinians to conduct terrorist attacks against Israelis.