The General Security Service (GSS) revealed Monday that it had uncovered a plot by Hamas to launch an uprising in Yehudah and Shomron, against both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“This infrastructure stretched from Jenin in the north to Chevron in the south. It is one of the biggest we’ve seen in Yehudah and Shomron since Hamas’s inception in 1987,” a senior GSS official told reporters on Monday.
“They planned to carry out a coup and topple the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
The Turkey-based Hamas overseas headquarters had planned the operation in collaboration with Hamas operatives in Jordan, as well.
The GSS believes it uncovered the plot at an early stage, and that it shows Hamas is determined to take over the entire Palestinian movement.
It says its information about “military” organizing by Hamas in Yehudah and Shomron is based on interrogations of recently arrested suspects and is not aimed at driving a wedge between Hamas and the PA, which recently formed a “unity” government.
The information is being released at this time because it is contained in legal documents that formalize charges against some 70 Hamas members.
Officials say that some 93 suspects have been arrested in the current investigation, including a man who allegedly was sent to Malaysia by Hamas to be trained as a paraglider.
The GSS named senior Hamas member Salah Al-Aruri, currently based in Turkey, as the organizer of the plot.
Al-Aruri, originally from the village of Arura near Ramallah, spent years in prison for terrorism offenses, and left the region in March 2010, as part of an agreement with Israel. He has since served as the head of the Yehudah and Shomron sector in Hamas’s overseas wing.
According to information cleared for publication, Hamas began organizing militarily in May — unrelated to the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Hy”d, a month later.
The plan called for major terrorist attacks inside Israel, launched from Yehudah and Shomron, that would trigger harsh responses by Israel. That, Hamas hoped, would trigger the eruption of a widespread uprising by Palestinians: a third Intifada.
It appears that Israeli intelligence received some of its information regarding this plot from Jordan’s security agencies, which is believed to have spies inside various Palestinian factions.
As part of the Israeli investigation, dozens of weapons and hidden storage facilities were found. Thirty guns valued at around half a million dollars are believed to have been smuggled in from Jordan, plus seven rocket launchers, and large quantities of ammunition.