Israel thwarts Hamas plot to kidnap citizens

Jerusalem, Jan 16: The Israeli security agency Shin Bet said Wednesday it thwarted a plot by the Hamas movement and a jihadi group to establish a cell in the West Bank for abducting Israelis.

The agency said Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel for terror-related offenses were involved in the plan. It named Muhammad Bal, 24, a resident of Gaza’s Zeitoun neighbourhood, as the main suspect, Xinhua quoted Shin Bet as saying in a statement.

Bal, who has been incarcerated since 2008, is said to have recruited two prisoners from the West Bank — Ali Harub, 21, and Rajab Salah Al-din, 53 — to direct and assist the plot, the Jerusalem Post reported.

A probe found that the three suspects were affiliated with Kataib Al-Mujahadin (Holy Warriors Brigades), an offshoot of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades which Shin Bet said closely cooperates with Gaza’s Hamas rulers in training, arms smuggling and financial support.

In recent years, the group, one of whose members was arrested in Israel in 2012 for planning to kidnap a civilian, was involved in firing rockets toward southern Israel, shooting attacks and detonating bombs on the Israel-Gaza border.

“We can say that in effect, the Holy Warriors Brigades is a Hamas front group in every way,” the agency said.

The agency said the abduction plot was in its early planning phase when foiled.

IANS