JERUSALEM (JTA) – A Hamas terror cell in the “advanced stages” of plans to kidnap and murder Israelis was arrested, the Shin Bet security service said.
The cell of six people from Jerusalem and Hebron was uncovered and arrested last month, the Shin Bet announced Thursday.
The Hamas operatives had planned to use the bodies of their kidnapped Israeli victims as bargaining chips in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, according to the Shin Bet, which called it a similar plan to the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens in June 2014.
The cell arrested last month had already identified a hideout for the kidnapped Israelis’ bodies, the Shin Bet said. Members had met in Hebron, in the West Bank, over the last year to plan the attacks. Originally it planned to carry out a bombing then changed to a shooting attack before settling on the kidnappings, according to the Shin Bet.
“This affair emphasizes Hamas’ intent to carry out serious terrorist attacks even at the present time in which it is in distress, in order to incite the latest terror wave into a full-blown violent intifada,” the Shin Bet said in a statement. “This affair also demonstrates the reliance of Hamas cells from the territories on residents of Israel who live in Jerusalem, who enjoy free movement and have a good command of Hebrew.”