JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli security services in the past few months broke up two Palestinian terror cells formed on Facebook by Hezbollah, according to officials.
Nine suspected cell members were arrested earlier this summer, but information about the case was kept under court-ordered gag order until Tuesday.
Working out of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, operatives for the Lebanon-based terrorist group recruited residents of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel through Facebook and other social media sites, the Shin Bet security service said.
“The Hezbollah organization has recently made it a priority to try to spark terror acts, doing so from far away, while attempting to not clearly expressing its involvement,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The West Bank terror cells, which received Hezbollah funding, planned to conduct suicide bombings and ambush Israeli army patrols in the West Bank, according to the Shin Bet. They had begun preparing explosive devices for attacks, said the security service, which claimed credit for thwarting attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and Israel.
After recruiting ringleaders on Facebook, Hezbollah and the recruits switched to encrypted communications to avoid detection, and the ringleaders went on to recruit other members, according to the Shin Bet.
The Shin Bet said it also detected multiple attempts by Hezbollah to recruit Israeli Arabs through a Facebook profile that featured anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian posts.
In response to the Shin Bet’s announcement, Israel’s United Nations ambassador, Danny Danon, called on the body to formally recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist group.