Despite the so-called calm of the ‘Tahdia’, agreed to among the Palestinian factions in February of this year, the Hamas organization has not slackened its efforts to perpetrate various terrorist attacks. However, it has not claimed responsibility for these attacks so that it could continue to apply violent pressure on Israel to make further withdrawals, while reducing the risk of Israeli counter-terrorist operations against it and avoiding the need to pay a political price on the Palestinian street for its controversial attacks.
Since the disengagement from Gaza, Hamas has made a special effort to perpetrate attacks in Judea and Samaria, especially in those areas where the security fence is incomplete. The PA security forces have yet to take any action against Hamas despite public statements to the contrary.
I. Hamas Cell Uncovered in Shai’h
In recent months a Hamas terrorist cell was uncovered in Shia’h, a village north of Hebron. The cell was responsible for planning and perpetrating terrorist attacks in the region over the last few years. The Hamas leadership in the Hebron area ensured that the cell received weapons and operational instructions. This cell was comprised of a large number of people who had been trained in firearms and the use of explosives. The commander of the terrorist cell is Mussa Hala’akia, 37, married with nine children and a resident of Shia’h. Hala’akia was responsible for recruiting and training most of the cell’s members.
b. Terrorist attacks perpetrated by the cell before the Tahdia
In July and September 2003, cell members perpetrated two shooting attacks on the Halhul bypass road, east of Hebron. There were no casualties.
In August 2004, cell members bombed an Israeli bus near El-Arub, north of Hebron. There were no casualties.
In November 2004, cell members bombed an Israeli car at the entrance to the Hebron-area community of Metzad. Two Israeli women were lightly wounded.
c. Planned terrorist attacks during the calm which were prevented
An attempt to blow up a parked IAF helicopter at a Judean Desert base using a 20kg bomb; a shooting attack against an IDF jeep, which was to include kidnapping the soldiers and stealing their weapons; and the kidnapping of Israelis hiking in the Judean Desert.
During the Tahdia, an explosion occurred in Mussa Hala’akia’s home while he was preparing bombs for terrorist attacks.
These terrorist attacks were prevented due to the uncovering of the cell. It is noteworthy that, throughout this period, the Hamas leadership continued to declare that it was bound by the Tahdia.
II. Uncovering of Hamas terrorist Infrastructure in Dahariya
In recent weeks, a Hamas terorist cell was uncovered in Dahariya. It had been active since 2002 and perpetrated several deadly terrorist attacks in the Negev and in the Hebron area, in which four Israelis were murdered and dozens were wounded. The leader and founder is Husam Kaisiya, 27, married and the father of two, a metal worker from Dahariya, who was imprisoned in 1999-2000 for Hamas activity. After his release, he recruited several of his friends into the terrorist cell he established. The members of the cell joined up with the Hamas HQ in the Hebron area, which supplied them with war materiel, weapons, and operational instructions.
b. Terrorist attacks perpetrated by the cell before the Tahdia
On February 10, 2002, cell members Khaled Tal and Muhammad Batat opened fire at the entrance to the IDF Southern Command base in Be’er Sheva, murdering Lt. Keren Rothstein, 20, of Ashkelon and Cpl. Aya Malachi, 18, of Moshav Ein Habesor. Four others were wounded, one critically. One of the terrorists was killed at the scene; the second, wearing an explosives belt, fled in the direction of a nearby school, where he was shot and killed by a soldier and police officer.
On May 22, 2003, cell members shot at an Israeli vehicle near Nevatim. One soldier was lightly wounded.
On June 17, 2003, cell members shot at an Israeli vehicle near Tene. Nobody was hurt.
On February 27, 2004, cell members ambushed an Israeli vehicle near Sansana junction, inside the Green Line, north of Be’er Sheva, an area that remains unfenced, murdering Eitan Kukoi, 30, and his wife, Rima Novikov Kukoi, 25, from close range.
On August 22, 2004, the cell members planned to kidnap an Israeli driver, shooting at an Israeli vehicle near Tene. The driver suffered from shock but was otherwise unhurt. She continued driving, thus preventing the intended kidnapping.
On February 3, 2005, on the eve of the Tahdia, cell members shot at an IDF jeep near Eshkolot, wounding four soldiers.
c. Terrorist attacks perpetrated by the cell during the Tahdia
On August 28, 2005, during the Tahdia, Rahman Kaisiya attempted to perpetrate a suicide bombing at the Be’er Sheva Central Bus Station. Two security guards were seriously wounded preventing Kaisiya from blowing himself up in a crowded area.
III. Uncovering of Hamas cell in the Ramallah area
In 2003, Yasser Muhammad Muhammad Salah was recruited to Hamas’s so-called military wing during his studies in Egypt by Gaza terrorist Muhammad Tira. Salah is the son of the Ramallah police commander, who also serves as an adviser to Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Nasser Yusuf. During his studies, Salah was sent to Sinai to check vacation sites frequented by Israelis as possible sites for future terrorist attacks. Upon returning to Ramallah in early 2004, Salah recruited a Hamas terrorist cell to perpetrate attacks that were to be directed and financed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The cell was instructed by Hamas’s Gaza Strip HQ to kidnap a soldier and planned to abduct an IDF officer who had links to drug deals. The Gaza Strip HQ dispatched a woman explosives expert, Samar Tzviah, from Gaza to Judea and Samaria in order to upgrade the bomb-making preparations of Hamas’s Judea and Samaria cells.
In recent months, during the Tahdia, cell members planned a variety of terrorist attacks (kidnapping Jews from various sites in the area, a suicide attack on a local IDF base, and shooting at Israelis in the Ramallah area) that were foiled by the security forces.
b. The abduction and murder of Sasson Nuriel
On September 21, 2005, cell members Abdallah Arar and Ali Kadi, who worked at a Mishor Adumim factory, enticed their manager, Sasson Nuriel, to travel with them to A-Ram in order to buy a coffee machine. On the way to A-Ram, they abducted Nuriel at gunpoint. He was taken to an apartment in Ramallah, where he was videotaped making a coerced statement. The initial plan was to exchange him for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, but shortly after abducting Nuriel, his captors panicked and led him to the garbage dump in the village of Beitunia, west of Ramallah, where they stabbed him to death.