A Hamas plan to kidnap Israelis in Samaria during the Hannukah holiday was thwarted by Israeli security forces, the Shin Bet said Wednesday.
A joint operation by the Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police exposed a Hamas terror cell from a village near Shechem who planned to abduct a soldier or an Israeli civilian from one of the bus stops at the Samaria region.
The cell leader, 26-year-old Hamas terrorist Muad Ashtiyya, planned the attack, purchased weapons to carry it out and recruited other Muslim terrorists.
Hamas terrorists Mohammad Ramadan and Ahmad Ramadan, both aged 19, joined the terror cell after being recruited by Ashtiyya.
The cell members were in contact with Omar Atzida, a Hamas terrorist and member of the Hamas command in Gaza, who has been working to promote terror activity in Judea and Samaria, and transfer funds for this activity.
In its investigation, the Shin Bet learned the cell members conducted observations at major junctions, main roads and bus stops in the area to gather intelligence for the planned attack. The cell leader also made inquiries about possible apartments in the Shechem area to hide their hostage.
The Shin Bet seized weapons the cell members planned to use to carry out the kidnapping, including a handgun, an electric shocker and pepper spray. The terrorists also allegedly planned to acquire more weapons.