Israeli security forces—including the Shin Bet security agency, Israel Police and IDF—have thwarted an attempt by the Gaza-ruling Palestinian terror group Hamas to kidnap Israelis in Samaria during Hanukkah.
In uncovering a Hamas terror cell operating near Nablus, the Shin Bet found that the group planned to kidnap local Jewish residents or an Israeli soldier from bus stops in the area.
The leader of the Palestinian terror cell, Muad Ashtiyah, 26, from the village of Tel near Nablus, acquired weapons and recruited terrorists Mahmoud Ramadan and Ahmad Ramadan, both 19, to assist with the kidnapping.
The Palestinian terror cell was in contact with Gaza-based Hamas operative Omar Assida, who heads coordination of Hamas’s money laundering schemes and terror operations between Gaza and the disputed territories.
Assida was reportedly freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal, which saw more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorist prisoners go free in exchange for the release of the captured Israeli soldier.
The terror cell also collected intelligence on the main routes used by Israelis in the area and planned to disguise themselves as Jews to lure potential victims into entering their vehicle.
The Shin Bet seized several weapons from the terrorists, including a pistol, a stun gun and pepper spray. The security agency handed over the investigation’s findings to state prosecutors for “consideration regarding the filing of indictments.”