Israel’s clandestine security agency Shin Bet recently discovered attempts by a Hamas unit to recruit four residents of Judea and Samaria, as well as an Israeli citizen from eastern Jerusalem. The recruits were intended to carry out terror operations against Israel.
Broadcasts of Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV channel were utilized to send secret recruitment messages to the Arabs of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
As recently as October 2018, the Shin Bet has exposed and disrupted a secret Hamas unit recruiting residents of Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Now, as part of the current investigation, several operatives from Judea and Samaria were detained and questioned by the Shin Bet, revealing the methods used by Hamas in the Gaza Strip to recruit and handle these agents:
Qutayba Al Nawaj’a, 21, from Yatta, was detained for questioning on December 21, 2018. He revealed that a year earlier he had begun communicating via Facebook with a Hamas operative from the Gaza Strip named Mohammad Arbid. At first, Al Nawaj’a believed Arbid to be a journalist, since during riots on the Gaza Strip border, Arbid had photographs taken of himself wearing a shirt with “PRESS” written across it.
In November 2018, Arbid introduced Al Nawaj’a to another Hamas operative, who described himself as a member of Hamas’ military wing and offered Al Nawaj’a to carry out terrorist attacks on behalf of Hamas.
To prove that Al Nawaj’a’s interlocutor was indeed a member of Hamas’ military wing, Al Nawaj’a was told to pick a verse from the Quran and watch the Al Aqsa TV channel the next day, and the next day an Al Aqsa TV anchor indeed discussed the verse Al Nawaj’a had picked, and the terrorist wannabe received his proof he was dealing with a Hamas bigwig.
Al Nawaj’a was told by the Gaza-based Hamas operatives to carry out a suicide bombing using an explosive belt on a bus in Lod, Israel. Al Nawaj’a was meant to receive the explosive belt mere days after his eventual arrest.
Bahaa Shuja’iya, 21, from Deir Jarir, a student of religious studies at Abu Dis University, was the leader of a Hamas secret cell at the university.
Shuja’iya was released from prison in May 2018, following two years’ behind bars for involvement in a terrorist plot to carry out shooting attacks and suicide bombings against Israelis.
Shuja’iya was detained for questioning on December 16, 2018, and confessed that several months after his release from prison, he was contacted by a Gaza-based Hamas operative via Facebook. The Gazan operative offered Shuja’iya to participate in military activity.
The Gazan operative communicating with Shuja’iya was Moussa Alayan, 24, from Jabalya, a Hamas member who identified himself on social media as a journalist.
Ahmad Abu Aysha, 23, from Shechem, was detained for questioning on December 26, 2018. Abu Aysha confessed that he had been approached by members of Hamas in the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist activities and also received messages via the Al Aqsa TV channel.
After being approached by the Gazan operatives, Abu Aysha recruited Hamas operative Said Issa, 24, from Shechem, to carry out a stabbing attack within Israel. This plan was inspired by the 2011 attack in Itamar, in which five members of the Fogel family were killed.
Israeli citizen Alaa Sharawna, 26, originally from Silwan in eastern Jerusalem, was detained for questioning on January 8, 2019. Sharawna’s questioning indicated that he had been recruited by members of the military wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip to establish a military cell.
According to Sharawna’s confession, Mohammad Arbid, Mohammad Aqel, and Mohammad Abu Kweik, members of Hamas’ military wing, assigned him tasks, such as filming points of interest in Jerusalem. They also dispatched a courier from the Gaza Strip to Sharawna.
Aware that operatives of Hamas’ military wing use Al Aqsa TV for terrorist purposes, the IDF launched an air strike on the channel’s studios in the Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018.