Special to WorldTribune.com
JERUSALEM — Israel’s intelligence community has disclosed a Hamas plot against the Palestinian Authority.
The Israel Security Agency reported a Hamas plot to oust PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. ISA said Hamas’ military network was ordered to destabilize the West Bank through mass-casualty attacks meant to prepare for a coup in Ramallah.
ISA and the military said they dismantled what was termed the biggest Hamas operational network in the West Bank since the movement was founded in 1987.
They said the network contained around 100 operatives, nearly all of them arrested, and directed by Hamas operations chief Salah Arouri, based in Turkey.
“They planned to stage a coup and topple the Palestinian Authority,” an ISA official said.
Many of the operatives attended Palestinian universities and majored in chemistry and engineering.
“The terrorists planned to undermine security and launch a third uprising,” another official said in a briefing on Aug. 18. “They planned disturbances on the Temple Mount to incite the Palestinian masses. They were waiting for talks between Israel and PA to collapse.”
In a statement, the military 93 alleged operatives were arrested, and 24 assault rifles and six rocket launchers were captured. The statement said the Hamas network received more than $2 million from couriers in neighboring Jordan.
“Over the last few months, in an IDF and ISA joint activity, uncovered a vast Hamas terror infrastructure,” Brig. Gen. Tamir Yadi, commander of the army’s Judea and Samaria Division, said. “Upon receiving the intelligence from the ISA, the brigade’s forces prepared to embark on a number of arrests and counter terrorist operations in Beitunia, Deir Qaddis, Bethlehem and Dir Abu Mashal.”
The statement said the Hamas network amassed a large amount of weapons, concealed in caches throughout the West Bank. The Hamas military infrastructure in the West Bank, with a presence in 46 towns and villages, was said to have been led by Riyad Nasser, arrested in May 2014.
“During the arrests a large amount of weaponry was uncovered, intended to be used for terror attacks against Israeli civilians, IDF soldiers and the Palestinian National Security Force,” the military said.
Officials said Israel has urged Turkey to stop Arouri’s activities. Arouri was deported to Turkey in 2010 and soon became the liasion for Hamas leader Khaled Masha’al.
“The exposure of this infrastructure, one of the largest we have encountered, underlines the great danger posed by Hamas’ overseas headquarters,” ISA said. “Khaled Masha’al was aware of this, and the Turkish government knew about the operations emanating from its territory.”