Hamas terror cell arrested, materials for terrorists stopped at Gaza crossing

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The IDF, Shin Bet and Israel police have stopped a Hamas terror cell planning to fire at soldiers near Abus Dis during the Jewish festival of Purim. The news was cleared for publication on Tuesday.

The members of the cell, who were arrested in early March, bought a car to be used in the attack, trained in shooting and collected intelligence on their target.

The cell’s members come from the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem. They purchased a vehicle, and carried out firearms training, while also gathering intelligence on targets, the shin Bet added.

“They were arrested before being able to carry out the attack. We have seized firearms in the course of the investigation,” the intelligence agency stated.

Suspects arrested at the start of March have been named as Ma’an Sa’ar, the alleged head of the cell, who worked at the Abu Dis University cafeteria. Sa’ar, a Hamas member, served a prison sentence from 2009 to 2011 for his involvement in a shooting attack on the IDF.

A second suspect, Daoud Adwan, of Azariya, a Hamas member, also served time in prison in the past, and had expertise in handgun use, the Shin Bet said.

Meanwhile, for the third time in two weeks, Israeli security forces thwarted an attempt to smuggle illicit materials destined for terrorists in the Gaza Strip to boost their capabilities to attack Israel.

Security staff at the Kerem Shalom crossing, one of two Gaza border crossings administered by Israel, intercepted a truck yesterday which according to the Defence Ministry included thousands of electronic welding devices jammed in between marble slabs. The Defence Ministry commented, “This is one of the biggest captures at Kerem Shalom crossing since Operation Protective Edge.” The equipment was apparently likely to be used to weld components for rockets and other explosive projectiles.

Last week, a shipment of advanced electronics equipment, including communications devices was intercepted at the same crossing. The Defence Ministry has said that since the start of 2015, more than 100 attempts “to smuggle forbidden goods and substances” have been thwarted by Israeli forces.

During 2015, Israel has introduced a range of measures meant to ease movement in and out of the Gaza Strip, in order to aid reconstruction. The amount of water Israel supplies to Gaza was doubled after a coastal aquifer had become ineffective. Israel also increased the number of entry and exit permits to Gaza merchants and has also facilitated the export of significant Gaza produce to the West Bank, an important market for the Gaza economy. However, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has remained largely closed by Cairo since October, after a suicide bombing in Sinai killed at least 30 Egyptian soldiers.