Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff
October 5, 2008 - 8:00pm

Palestinian security forces have thwarted an attempted suicide bombing within the Green Line, Palestinian sources told Haaretz recently.

The security service in the West Bank arrested two senior wanted members of Hamas' military wing in Hebron, who were found in possession of weapons and an explosives belt, the sources said. The suspects, who were arrested three weeks ago, were also in possession of a great deal of cash, which they were thought to be planning to use in carrying out the attack.

One of the suspects is Wail al-Bitar, one of the heads of Iz al-Din al-Qassam in the area. Neither of the Hamas operatives resisted arrest. Both are said to be part of a Hamas network that planned and carried out a suicide bombing in Dimona in February that killed an Israeli woman and seriously wounded her husband.

Al-Bitar had previously hidden in his house another member of the network who was killed several months ago in clashes with the Israel Police's counter-terrorism unit in Hebron, and who was apparently the terrorist who planned the Dimona attack.

Israel has captured several other suspects in the Dimona bombing and other attempted attacks, but details of the investigation are not being released. Israeli security sources expressed concern over the high level of sophistication evident in the planning of the Dimona attack.

After the Hamas suspects were arrested, the movement put out a call to its operatives for the first time in its history, instructing them to forcibly oppose PA attempts to arrest them. So far, though, there have been no violent clashes between Hamas operatives and PA officials in the West Bank, even during arrest raids.

Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat reported over the weekend that PA forces were preparing for the possibility that Hamas would attempt to assassinate PA leaders in the West Bank.


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