A joint effort between the Israel Police, Border Police, IDF and the ISA resulted in the arrest last month of several members of Hamas’ military infrastructure. The terrorists were from the Jerusalem and Ramallah branches of Hamas’ military wing. They were apprehended during advanced stages of planning a bomb attack in Jerusalem, which they intended to carry out during the Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Holidays.
The leader of the group was Hamdi Hasneen Hamdi Romana, born in 1991, whose father, Hasneen Romana, was one of the leaders of Hamas’ military wing in Ramallah.
During the investigation, the ISA uncovered a weapons laboratory at the home of Romana, with chemicals used to make explosives, and educational materials with instructions on explosives production. The ISA said that during their search they were in contact with a laboratory worker and two residents of Ramallah who provided him with chemicals in order to produce explosives. The three were detained for questioning and pleaded guilty to the charges.
The investigation also found that the terrorist cell had been planning other attacks, including: An attempt to harm IDF soldiers in Ramallah through a booby-trapped house; intention to produce rockets and launch them at Israeli communities near Ramallah; and an attempt to procure guns to fire at IDF soldiers at the Himza checkpoint in North-East Jerusalem.
The ISA emphasized that the newly-exposed terrorist cell demonstrates the high motivation of terrorists in the West Bank, lead by Hamas, to carry out attacks in Israel.
Increase in terrorism
Members of the terrorist cell were arrested by soldiers of the Givati Brigade. “The infrastructure was very extensive and it took about two weeks to catch all of the members”, said the Tzabar battalion commander, Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi. “We carried out the raid of the house of the head of the cell in the heart of Ramallah and arrested two members, and through them we found the other members. The material we found there was advanced.”
During the raid, residents of the neighborhood rioted in order to prevent the arrest. “We faced resistance even within the house,” said Lt. Col. Hajbi. “But the soldiers came prepared, and ready. We arrived with a reserve force and an extraction force, and we entered under maximum security. We isolated the operating space, and prevented public disturbances. The extraction had to be done swiftly.”
The Tzabar Battalion began operating in the Ramallah area in recent months. According to Lt. Col. Hajbi, last month saw a significant increase in terrorism in the area. “Arrests and raids were carried out every night to reduce the chance of terrorist attacks,” he added. “About a week and a half ago we carried out a similar raid. The battalion’s spirits are high and we will continue to work hard during the upcoming nights.”