Israel arrests Daesh-linked Palestinians in West Bank
Israeli security forces say the Daesh ideology is gaining traction in the Palestinian territories. (AFP/FIle)
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The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) arrested a Hebron-based terrorism cell in November that was affiliated with the Islamic State, security forces announced on Sunday.
The cell planned to carry out a range of terrorist attacks, the Shin Bet said, and detonated a bomb in an attempted attack against the IDF, which failed to cause injuries.
Members of the cell are all residents of Hebron, the Shin Bet added, naming three men in their eary 20s. The cell's members acted alone, and had no contact with outside elements, security sources familiar with the investigation said.
Security forces said Ahmed Shahada, 22, confessed during questioning to setting up an Islamic State cell with two other suspects and plotting attacks. He also admitted to building a number of bombs, one of which he threw at an army unit.
"They planned to murder an IDF soldier and use his weapon and uniform to carry out a shooting attack," the Shin Bet stated. It named Muhammad Zaro, 21, and Qassai Div Masawada, 23, as suspects as well.
They also have confessed, the Shin Bet said.
Shahada and Masawada allegedly headed out to carry out another attack in recent months, but turned back after their effort failed.
Additionally, the cell plotted to kill an Israeli resident of Hebron at the Avraham Spring site in the city and steal his weapon.
In recent days, the Shin Bet sent the case to military prosecutors, who proceeded to indict the three suspects.
The three started to meet around mid-summer, said the indictment.
Shahada told Zaro that the activities and ideology of Islamic State could improve their lives, according to the indictment.
The indictment stated that he told Zaro that the attacks should target both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
More specifically, the cell was preparing to attack the PA police station at Ba'ab al-Zawa, according to the indictment.
The three were indicted in the Judea Military Court on December 18.
In December 2013, special forces shot dead members of a Palestinian Salafi-jihadi terrorist cell near Hebron in a gun battle.
The defense establishment assesses that salafi jihadism remains a marginal force in the West Bank, but one that could grow in scope and danger if it exploits a power vacuum.
The ideology of the Islamic State is gaining traction in some quarters in the Palestinian territories, but has not reached the level of being a significant presence at this time.