Cleared for release: In a joint operation, IDF, ISA and Israel Police arrested a terror cell funded and guided by Iranian-backed Hezbollah.
The five-member cell was based in the Tulkarem area and was plotting a shooting attack.
The leader of the cell, a Hezbollah operative, was recruited online by Jawad Nasrallah, the son of Hezbollah terror chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
According to a statement released by the IDF, the cell received instructions and guidance from an additional Hezbollah operative named “Fadi.”
It was “Fadi” who directed other operatives regarding the execution of terror attacks using explosives, training suicide bombers, gathering information on security forces and purchasing weapons.
The Hezbollah terrorist organization has for many years been generously funded, equipped and trained by its patron, Iran and continues to function as its proxy in the region.
Mahmoud Za’alul, 33, was recruited by the younger Nasrallah via the Internet, according to the Shin Bet, and reported to “Fadi,” who told him to open an email account. It was after he did so that Za’alul was given instructions on how to recruit other cell members and conduct reconnaissance in order to carry out terror attacks.
Hezbollah paid $5,000 to the cell via foreign currency transfers, according to the report.
Muhammad Massawareh, 20, and Ahmed Abu al-Az, 20, two of the five suspects who were arrested, were both from Tulkarem. They purchased weapons from Za’alul, intending to attack Israeli security forces, but were arrested before they could carry out the attack.
Also arrested were Muhammad Za’alul, 20, and Rabah Labdi, 29, both from Zita. Labdi is a convict who was incarcerated in Israeli prison from 2002 to 2007, and 2008 to 2011.
“The Hezbollah organization is trying to latch on to the recent wave of terror flooding Israel and is working vigorously to fan the flames,” said the Shin Bet, “Contributing to the growing incitement by exploiting the Palestinian population and tempting young people to carry out terror attacks under its instruction, for payment.
“The organization is using remote enlistment and handling of terror cells over the Internet with the goal of perpetrating terrorist acts from afar, without leaving a signature,” the Shin Bet warned.
All five of the suspects were indicted in a Samaria military court.
They were charged with membership in an illegal organization, contact with the enemy, channeling enemy funds into the region, intent and involvement in manslaughter, arms dealing, intent to shoot people, and interfering with legal proceedings.
Hana Levi Julian