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Probe uncovers Palestinian cell planning to abduct Israelis

08-20-2012 21:17 BJT

JERUSALEM, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- A joint undercover operation by Israel's Shin Bet civilian security agency and the army has caught a group of West Bank militants that planned to attack and abduct Israeli civilians and soldiers, a document released on Monday unveiled.

The cell's four Palestinians, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine(PFLP), were nabbed in May just as they were about to carry out the attacks, the Ynet news website reported.

The group members, who were found in possession of arms, were indicted Wednesday at an army court near Jerusalem.

According to the indictment sheet, the cell planned to shoot and then kidnap Israeli civilians and soldiers in order to exchange them in a future swap for Palestinian prisoners, similar to that which preceded the release by Hamas of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years of captivity.

More than 1,000 Hamas members went free in that controversial deal.

At the time, security officials warned that the swap would trigger more attempts to capture Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips for the release of further Palestinian prisoners. Since then, statistics have shown that many of the former prisoners have returned to militant activity, including planning such abductions.

Their main goal of the latest group, according to an Israel Radio report, was to negotiate the release of Ahmed Sa'adat, the former PFLP chief who was indicted in 2006 for planning the assassination of an Israeli government tourism minister, Rehavam Ze'evi, in 2001.

In July, authorities disclosed the existence of a similar PFLP cell, which planned to kidnap soldiers hitchhiking around rural areas between Jerusalem and the Palestinian city of Ramallah. That cell also aimed to gain Sa'adat's freedom.

In 2011, the army reported 11 abduction attempts, and, as a result, has embarked on a heavily-advertised campaign to warn soldiers to be aware of suspicious activity while waiting at bus stops, and not to take rides, which is forbidden by military law.


Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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