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Israel says dismantles 20-strong Hamas ‘attack’ cell


JERUSALEM – Israel said Sunday it arrested more than 20 people and seized explosives when it dismantled a Hamas cell it alleged was preparing “serious attacks” against Israeli targets.

The cell’s members were mainly from Nablus city in the north of the occupied West Bank and it was active for about six months until being dismantled in April, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency said in a statement.

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

“We found a seven-kilogram bomb ready for use in a Palestinian village near Nablus,” added Rousso, who took part in the operation.

Israeli security forces also discovered bomb-making equipment and “serious attacks” were averted, the Shin Bet statement added.

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

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 Mahmud Abbas.

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

Protesters have demanded Palestinians be allowed to return to land they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.