Israeli settlers gather as they are led away by Israeli soldiers after clashes with Palestinians in the village of Qusra, near the West Bank City of Nablus, on Nov. 30, 2017. (Xinhua/Nidal Eshtayeh)
JERUSALEM, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- A Hamas plan to kidnap Israelis in the West Bank during the Hannukah holiday was thwarted and three cell members arrested by Israeli security forces, the Shin Bet said Wednesday.
A joint operation by the Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police exposed a Hamas terror cell in the village of Tell near Nablus that planned to abduct a soldier or a settler from one of the bus stops at the Samaria region's main junctions, according to Israeli media reports.
The abducted Israeli was to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations for prison release with Israel, said the reports.
The cell members had conducted observations at major junctions, main roads and bus stops in the area to gather intelligence for the planned attack, said the security forces.
The Shin Bet seized weapons the cell members planned to use to carry out the kidnapping, including a handgun, an electric shocker and pepper spray. The cell members also allegedly planned to acquire more weapons.
The cell leader, 26-year-old Hamas member Muad Ashtiyah, is suspected of planning the attack, purchasing weapons and recruiting other members.
Hamas members Mahmoud Ramadan and Ahmed Ramadan, both aged 19, are suspected of joining the cell after being recruited by Ashtiyah.