World Bulletin/News Desk
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that 30 people arrested in the occupied West Bank earlier Thursday were part of a "terrorist cell" linked to the Palestinian Hamas movement, claiming they had been planning attacks on Israelis in Jerusalem.
The Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security agency, carried out the investigation that had led to the arrests, according to a statement by Netanyahu in which he praised the agency for "thwarting attacks, which, if carried out, could have exacted a heavy toll."
Earlier Thursday, Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner said via Twitter that Israeli forces had detained 30 members of a "terrorist cell" set up by Hamas, saying they had been planning attacks on Israelis – including an attack on Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium and the city's light rail system.
Lerner claimed that those who were apprehended had also been plotting kidnappings and car bombs in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu said that investigations had revealed that Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip and the group's "representatives in Jordan, Turkey and Syria" had provided training for members of the alleged "terrorist cell."
In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is dominant, a spokesman for the group said: "We have no information about these Israeli claims ... It is clear Israel wanted to create a new story to divert the world's attention away from the escalation in Jerusalem."
Tension has run high in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in recent months following Israel's 51-day military onslaught on the Gaza Strip, in which over 2,160 Palestinians were killed.
Meanwhile, increasingly frequent intrusions by Jewish settlers and Israeli officials into East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have angered Palestinians and led to frequent clashes.
Tension mounted further on October 30, when Israel briefly closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex after an extremist rabbi was shot by a Palestinian man in West Jerusalem.
Since then, 11 Israelis, including two security personnel, have been killed – and several others injured – in a spate of attacks by Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories.
Over 7,000 Palestinians continue to languish in prisons throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs.
Israel classifies Hamas, a prominent Palestinian resistance movement that has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, as a "terrorist organization."
Last Mod: 27 Kasım 2014, 17:19