Israel Arrests Top Islamic Jihad Terrorist

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli soldiers participate in a drill simulating infiltration of terrorists from Gaza, in Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel. (Flash90)

IDF soldiers early Monday arrested a senior commander in the Islamic Jihad terror group. Tarak Kaadan, a resident of the village of Aarabe, south of Jenin, is one of the terrorists released in the exchange deal to release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, officials said.

Officials said that Kaadan had emerged as a key leader of Islamic Jihad in Yehudah and Shomron, and was responsible for dissemination of incitement and organizing terror attacks. He has served 15 years in Israeli prisons at different periods, and most recently was a participant in hunger strikes earlier this year organized by Hamas terrorists being held in Israeli prisons.

He had been released previously in 2011 as one of the more than 1,000 terrorists released in the deal to bring Shalit home, and was arrested a short time after that on terror charges. He was released again last May after a period of administrative detention against him expired, officials said.

In the wake of the demolition of a terror tunnel that ran under Israeli territory several weeks ago, IDF Southern Commander General Yoav Mordechai over the weekend issued a warning to Islamic Jihad not to act in response to the demolition of the tunnel.

The IDF believes that the group is planning a major terror attack, but by doing so, “it is playing with fire on the backs of Gaza residents, and at the expense of its reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority. It is endangering the entire region. It should be clear that to any response by Islamic Jihad, Israel will respond with determination and power, not just against Islamic Jihad but against Hamas as well. We would recommend that Islamic Jihad be cautious in its actions,” Mordechai said. Among those killed in the tunnel demolition were top Islamic Jihad terrorist Arafat Marshad, head of the group’s military wing, and his deputy Hassan Abu Hasnin.

Responding to the Israeli warning, Islamic Jihad said Sunday that “Israeli threats are the result of fear and concern over the Palestinian response to their crimes.”

Overnight Sunday, security officials said they arrested 14 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.