JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s security agency said law enforcement thwarted a Hamas kidnapping plot set to take place during Hanukkah.
A Hamas cell from a Palestinian village near Nablus in the West Bank planned to abduct an Israeli soldier or a settler from a bus stop near Nablus, the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet, said in a statement released Wednesday.
The three Palestinians alleged to be involved in the plot were arrested in late October, but the arrests and plan were held under a gag order until the release of the statement on the same day that findings in the investigation were sent to state prosecutors to prepare the indictments.
The alleged cell members — a 26-year-old man who planned the kidnapping and acquired the weapons to carry it out, and two 21-year-old cousins — were in contact with a member of the Hamas command in the Gaza Strip responsible for organizing military actions and the flow of funds from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, according to the ISA, which said it worked in conjunction with the Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces in order to stop the cell.
The men gathered precise intelligence on routes, hitchhiking stops and the main junctions in the northern West Bank.
“The plan was for cell members to disguise themselves as local Jewish residents and entice a victim to enter their vehicle,” according to the statement from the Israel Security Agency.
“The ISA will continue to take determined action to thwart terrorist cells and planned attacks, especially by the Hamas terrorist organization which works tirelessly to perpetrate attacks in Israel,” the agency statement said.