Hamas’s military wing has grown more sophisticated in recruiting personnel for its terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency revealed.
In an unusually detailed statement, the agency said on Thursday that Hamas has increasingly taken advantage of Israel’s humanitarian gestures to facilitate attacks.
“Activists from Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip have been recruiting in Judea and Samaria, training recruits with explosives and instructing them to find targets inside Israel,” said the agency. “This is a departure from the activities undertaken by Hamas in recent years, both in scope and in potential threat.”
The agency said this activity is “designed to create a new reality [in Judea and Samaria] in light of the ongoing events in the Gaza Strip.”
According to the Shin Bet, the effort is being overseen by the senior Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. A substantial part of the mechanism includes exploiting the special permits Israel grants Gazans for emergency medical care in Israel.
“To establish contact with operatives in Judea and Samaria, Hamas exploits residents of Gaza who have permits to receive life-saving care in Israeli hospitals,” the Shin Bet said.
One example was of Nueima Mukdad, a 53-year-old Palestinian mother of nine who accompanied her 47-year-old sister to Israel in August when the latter was undergoing cancer treatment. After entering Israel, the two sisters met in Ramallah with Hamas activist Fouad Dar Halil from Sinjil, a small village nearby, who had served 14 years in an Israeli prison for his role in major terrorist attacks.
They handed him a suitcase with a secret letter, in which the Hamas military wing in Gaza asked him to carry out Hamas attacks in Israel and recruit others to join him.
In the letter, the military wing promised that it would help Halil obtain weapons and funding for carrying out the attacks, as well as provide him with instructional videos on how to make bombs using new techniques that have never been used before in Judea and Samaria. Halil complied with their request.
According to Israeli officials, the terrorist networks that Hamas established in Judea and Samaria in this manner were directed to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets as quickly as possible, to force Israel to confront escalation on two fronts rather than just in Gaza.
Hamas’s efforts in Judea and Samaria were discovered after the arrest of Ayus Rajoub, a 25-year-old Hamas operative who lives near Hebron.
Rajoub was arrested on Sept. 23, and in an unusual step, the Shin Bet released a tape of his interrogation. In it, Rajoub reveals that he was promised financial help by Hamas’s military wing because it wanted Judea and Samaria residents to stage major attacks inside Israel, in shopping malls, hotels, buses and trains.
Rajoub was hoping to carry out the attacks in early October. He had recruited operatives from a nearby village and told them to find targets for attacks inside Israel, as well as prepare explosives for a bomb while he was building the detonator, as per instructions from the Gaza Strip.
“This adds to a long list of attempts by Hamas’s military wing to stage attacks by means of recruiting activists in Judea and Samaria,” said a senior Shin Bet official. “This has led to the arrest of hundreds of young activists in Judea and Samaria, including female students and young women. This is how Hamas’s military wing sabotages the lives of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, taking them down the dark path of terrorism.”