Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Shin Bet
The gun possessed by the kidnapping cell and the cell leader, Mu'ad Ashtiyeh

The Shin Bet security service, in cooperation with the IDF and Israel Police, foiled an abduction in Samaria which Hamas had planned for the holiday of Hanukkah.

In October and November 2017, the Shin Bet uncovered a squad of Hamas operatives from the village of Tel, near Shechem, whose members were involved in planning the attack. The Shin Bet investigation revealed that members of the cell were planning the kidnapping a soldier or a settler from one of the bus stations in the central junctions outside Shechem.

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Three cell members, the leader, Mu’ad Ashtiyeh, 26, and Muhammad and Ahmed Ramadan, 19, are residents of Tel. They were in contact with their Hamas operator Omar Asida, a member of the Hamas headquarters in Gaza who mobilizes military operations and funding from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria.

The plan was to use the kidnapped Israelis to negotiate the release of security prisoners in Israeli prison.

The 2014 Operation Protective Edge, which ended with the destruction from the air and from artillery shelling of large swaths of military and civilian structures in the Gaza Strip, began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas terrorists in Judea and Samaria. Initially, the three boys were going to be used as a negotiation card for the release of terrorist prisoners, but the kidnappers, fearing that the operation had been botched, murdered their victims.

The Tel cell conducted a thorough intelligence gathering operation along roads, junctions, and hitchhiking posts close to their village. They were going to impersonate Jewish settlers and lure their victims to board their car. The cell members sought out safe houses in Shechem, and, when they were captured, were in possession of a gun, a taser and a pepper spray can.

The IDF has begun a new campaign to discourage Israeli youths from hitchhiking anywhere in Israel, but especially in Judea and Samaria.

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