Photo Credit: Courtesy, Israel Security Agency / Shin Bet
Explosives and bomb-making materials discovered by Israeli security forces near Shechem

A large Hamas network operating in and around the Palestinian Authority city of Shechem that plotted major terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem has been foiled by Israeli security forces, the Shin Bet has announced.

“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,” the Shin Bet said in a statement, using the Arabic name for the city of Shechem.

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“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 network, which operated from October 2017 until the arrest of its operatives in April, consisted of over 20 operatives and included individuals with a “rich history of terrorist activities and production of explosive devices,” the Shin Bet statement said.

Both leaders of the network, Mutassem Muhammad Salem, 35, and Fares Kamil Zebidi, 33, were arrested by Shin Bet intelligence agents, who also discovered a powerful 10-kilogram explosive device with cellular activation while investigating the case, along with 15 additional kilograms of explosives, bomb making materials and instructions.

The two leaders, both from Shechem, were responsible for recruiting the network’s members, planning the attacks and manufacturing the explosive devices.

“The uncovering of this case demonstrates, once again, the efforts invested by Hamas in order to establish terror infrastructures in Judea and Samaria, with the objective of promoting serious terrorist attacks in Israel,” said a senior Shin Bet official.

“The discovery of the network indicates Hamas’ continued desire to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets, while undermining the current relative calm. It prevented the implementation of serious attacks and saved many lives. We will continue with our partners in the IDF and Israel Police to act decisively to thwart the murderous terror networks of Hamas and to bring its members to justice,” the Shin Bet official added.

Yona Schnitzer and TPS contributed content to this report.

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