JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel said it uncovered an Iranian military intelligence operation in the West Bank that was planning to carry out terror attacks and was collecting intelligence for the Islamic Republic.
The Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet, revealed Wednesday that it had detected the cell working in the Hebron area, and that the members were recruited and financed by an Iranian intelligence operative living in South Africa.
Iranian intelligence has been using South Africa as a significant center for locating, recruiting and operating agents against Israel in the West Bank, the Israel Security Agency said in a statement issued Wednesday.
The ISA said it worked in conjunction with the Israel Defense Forces to expose and arrest the members of the cell.
Three members of the cell, which had been operating for about two years, were arrested in November, according to the ISA. The principal operative arrested is a 29-year-old computer engineering student from Hebron named Mahmoud Makharmeh, 29.
The cell members were indicted earlier this week in an Israeli military court.
The ISA said in a statement that the uncovering of the cell “underscores Iran’s involvement in sponsoring terrorism against Israel and exposes Iran’s efforts in various countries in order to promote hostile activity against Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that this is not the first time that the ISA has uncovered an Iranian-backed terrorist network in the West Bank.