In a report released Wednesday, Shin Bet said information from interrogations of West Bank Palestinian terror suspects, all members of Hamas recently arrested in the Ramallah area, allegedly revealed stepped-up Hamas efforts to recruit West Bank Palestinians for suicide bomb attacks and kidnappings of Israelis.
The report said Fathi Hammad, the Hamas minister of interior in Gaza, has been involved in plotting attacks against Israel and that Hammad appointed a number of close aides affiliated with Hamas and the Defenders of al-Aksa group to smuggle explosives into the West Bank. The attempts were thwarted by Israeli security forces, the report said.
Islam Shahwan, a spokesman of the Interior Ministry in Gaza, denied the claims.
"Accusing the minister of interior, Fathi Hammad, of planning operations in the West Bank is an attempt to avert the eyes of the public off Hamas' campaign against collaborators," Shahwan told the Ma'an News Agency Thursday.
The Palestinian detainees allegedly told investigators they kept contact with Gaza operatives using the Internet and had been trained to manufacture weapons and recruit operatives.
They reportedly admitted to receiving instructions to abduct an Israeli soldier to use as a bargaining chip and then kill the soldier and bury him in a secret location. The alleged plot was said to be in advanced planning stages when the suspects were arrested.
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