Details released Monday by Israel's Shin Bet security agency said the operatives sought to set up Hamas headquarters in Ramallah, considered a predominantly Fatah stronghold, and were also active in the Binyamin district in the West Bank. Their arrest thwarted attempts to establish cells in Bethlehem and Hebron, Shin Bet said.
Student cells were established in West Bank universities in the Ramallah and Abu Dis areas to recruit Hamas members and Hamas transferred large sums of money to the student bodies, Shin Bet said.
Some of the suspects allegedly were in contact with Hamas leaders abroad and discussed ways of moving funds to the West Bank cells and exchanged information.
Two suspects admitted to participating in the killing of two Israeli reserve soldiers, who were bludgeoned to death when they strayed into Ramallah in 2000, the agency said.
All the suspects appeared before the Judea Military court and were charged for belonging to an illegal organization, contact with the enemy, providing funds to the enemy and plotting to carry out operations on behalf of an illegal organization, the agency said.