Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Ibrahim Abdullah Ranimat

Intelligence agents from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), IDF soldiers and Israeli Police officers recently joined forces in an massive operation to capture a seven-man Hamas terrorist cell, officials announced Thursday.

The terrorists were planning a complex attack that involved shooting and then abduction of a victim to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations for the release of jailed terrorists.

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According to the information cleared for release, the members of the cell, residents of Tzurif and Hebron, had set up observation posts to gather intelligence on IDF troop movements in the area around Tzurif.

The lead terrorist, a prisoner named Ibrahim Abdullah Ranimat, (born in 1958), has a long rap sheet for which he is already incarcerated and serving a sentence of life in prison.

Ranimat was responsible for the 1996 abduction and murder of IDF soldier Sharon Edri, and the 1997 bombing attack on a Tel Aviv cafe that killed three Israeli women. He also participated in two shooting and suicide bombing attacks that took the lives of three Israelis.

Nevertheless, Ranimat’s six co-conspirators managed to reach him and plot another deadly attack together with him — one that would have taken more Israeli lives, had it been carried out.

Two of those arrested were Ranimat’s sons, Fadi and Shadi Ranimat. A third conspirator who was arrested was Muhammad Ranimat, Ibrahim Abdullah’s son-in-law., who directed the operatives of the cell.

Conspirator number four was Haitham Hamidan, who hid the weapons for Ranimat’s family. The fifth member of the cell was J’ad Sultan, who was tasked with delivering the arms to the cell, and the sixth member was Rami Rajoub from the village of Dura. All were arrested.

Shin Bet agents, IDF soldiers and Israel Police officers uncovered during their investigation large quantities of weapons during the arrests. Included were two Kalashnikov rifles, three handguns, a hunting rifle, an M-16 military assault rifle, magazines and ammunition. All were confiscated by the security forces.

In the course of the investigation six additional Hamas terrorists were also arrested and indictments are expected to be issued shortly by the military prosecutor.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.