BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Several Palestinians have been arrested after they were accused of being involved in a “Hamas terror cell” allegedly planning to kidnap Israelis, the Israeli army told Ma’an on Thursday
A joint operation between the Israel Security Authority, Israeli police, and the Israeli army recently apprehended the men, who an Israeli army spokesperson said were planning to “carry out terror attacks and abductions against civilians and Israeli forces.”
The spokesperson added the during the arrest, Israeli forces uncovered and seized a large amount of weaponry that they said belonged to the men.
According to a report
from Israeli news site Ynet, the cell was comprised of seven men and based in Surif and Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank, and intended to carry out the abductions as a bargaining chip to release Palestinian political prisoners.
The news emerged on Thursday after an Israeli authorities-issued gag order on the case was lifted.
Just a day prior, Israeli authorities also lifted a gag order on the arrest of another “terror cell”
based in the village of Silwad in the occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.
Israeli security forces also claimed to have uncovered a “terrorist cell” in the Jerusalem
area in November, on suspicion of being responsible for “numerous bombing attacks targeting Israeli security forces,” as well as “preparing for future attacks.”
Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan urged Palestinian resistance fighters this week to capture Israeli soldiers in order to position them as a bargaining chip to force Israeli authorities into releasing Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.
The statement was made during a gathering on Monday in support of hunger-striking prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah.
“It is a noble goal to fight for the release of our prisoners, and the only choice we have is with the rifle,” Radwan said at the gathering, adding that Israeli authorities “respond” to Palestinian demands when their soldiers are captured.
A spokesman of Islamic Jihad, Dawood Shihab, also warned Israeli authorities that the Palestinian resistance would never abandon the Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, saying that “resistance will never leave our prisoners to be prey for the Israeli occupation.”
As Israel currently holds 7,000 Palestinians in their prisons, and with 40 percent of Palestinian men having been detained by Israel at some point in their lives, many families of Palestinian political prisoners have rested heavily on the prospects of another prisoner swap
between Israel and Palestinian leaders as the only promising avenue of their release.