Israel says it has dismantled 20-member Hamas 'attack' cell

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Since the start of Gaza protests on 30 March, at least 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP/file photo)
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Monday 18 June 2018 10:19 UTC
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Israel said on Sunday it had arrested more than 20 people and seized explosives after dismantling a Hamas cell it alleged was preparing "serious attacks" against Israeli targets.

The cell's members were mostly from the city of Nablus in the north of the occupied West Bank. It was active for about six months before being dismantled in April, Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency said in a statement.

"We made arrests and neutralised explosives that were to be used against Israeli targets," Israeli army officer Guy Rousso told journalists.

The Shin Bet said the cell was planning a bombing in Tel Aviv, a suicide attack and a bombing in Jerusalem, a bombing in the settlement of Itamar and shooting attacks elsewhere in the West Bank, Haaretz reported.

The service said it had confiscated several explosive devices, including one 10-kilogram bomb that could be activated by cell phone, 15 kilograms of explosives and other materials to prepare explosives and weapons, according to Haaretz.

"The arrests demonstrate once again the will and efforts of Hamas to put in place terrorist infrastructure to commit attacks in Israel," the Shin Bet said.

“Hamas is trying to harm us both from Gaza and from Judea and Samaria," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the announcement.

Indictments were filed in military court on Sunday against two of the suspects and they were ordered detained until the end of legal proceedings, Haaretz reported. Other indictments will be filed in the coming days.

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UN General Assembly condemns Israel for Gaza violence

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and Israel considers the group its number one enemy.

The West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

At least 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of protests along the border between Israel and Gaza on 30 March.

Protesters have demanded Palestinians be allowed to return to land they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation, which Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or "catastrophe".