Cleared for publication: West Bank gang reportedly aligned with Hamas, sought to acquire a RPG launcher to assassinate Foreign Minister.
Combined Israeli security forces – internal security agency Shin Bet, police and army – have arrested a Hamas military squad that planned to assassinate Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The squad, the three members of which came from and operated in the Bethlehem vicinity, have been planning to purchase an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) launcher to target Lieberman’s vehicle.
According to the Israeli news site Times of Israel, the head of the cell was identified as Ibrahim Salim Mahmoud Zir, 37, who had served time in Israeli prisons for terror-related activities.
The other members of the cell were his brother Ziad Salim Mahmoud Zir, 35, and a third man identified as Adnan Amin Mahmoud Zabih, 31.
The arrests took place several weeks ago, and according to a Jerusalem Post report, the three Palestinians allegedly decided to target Lieberman in mid-August, during Operation Protective Edge.
The three would-be assassins, who came from the West Bank village of Harmala, observed Lieberman’s schedule and his entourage of vehicles.
Harmala is only several kilometers from the where Liberman lives, the settlement of Nokdim.
According to the Shin Bet statement, the cell had planned to assassinate Lieberman “in order to send a message to Israel and end the war in Gaza.”
The Shin Bet uncovered a separate Hamas network during the interrogation of the Bethlehem cell, which was planning other attacks in the Gush Etzion area.
Palestinian Authority arrests 30 planning attacks in the West Bank
The Palestinian Authority carried out a wave of arrests over the past 72 hours, focusing primarily on Hebron, where some 20 Palestinians were detained, most of them Hamas operatives. Additional arrests were made in Nablus and Ramallah.
According to The Times of Israel, several of those arrested planned to carry out attacks on settlers. The attacks,which were in the preliminary stages of planning, had thwarted by the arrests.
A senior Palestinian official had said that several of the detainees had been inspired by what was circulating online, including videos and clips.
The Times of Israel reported that the arrests were carried out under the general directive of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
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