Hezbollah operatives from the group’s Unit 133 — its foreign operations unit — working out of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip recruited members in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and within Israel through social media sites, notably Facebook, the Shin Bet security service said.
According to Shin Bet, the terror cells had allegedly planned to carry out suicide bombings and ambush IDF patrols in the West Bank. They reportedly received funding from Hezbollah, and some members had begun preparing explosive devices for use in attacks.
A statement released by Shin Bet said: “The Hezbollah organisation has recently made it a priority to try to spark terror acts, doing so from far away, while attempting to not clearly expressing its involvement”.
According to Israel’s security forces, the ringleader of the West Bank terror cell was Mustafa Kamal Hindi, 18, a resident of Qalqilya.
During his interrogation, Hindi told interrogators that he’d been recruited through a Facebook page, “Palestine the Free,” where Hezbollah posted “anti-Israel and pro-jihad content,” the Shin Bet said.
Through the page, Hindi was in contact with a Hezbollah operative known only as “Bilal.” The two began speaking through the social media site, but later moved to encrypted forms of communications to avoid detection, the Shin Bet said.
Following instructions from “Bilal,” Hindi recruited additional members for the terror cell in order to carry out a shooting attack against an IDF patrol in Qalqilya, the security service said.
In June 2016, before they could carry out the alleged attack, Israeli security forces arrested Hindi and the other members of the terror cell. All residents of Qalqilya, the alleged terrorists were between the ages of 18 and 22.
In January, the Shin Bet announced it arrested a five-person terror cell in the West Bank, which was receiving orders from the son of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah has also been responsible for attacking Israeli targets abroad, including a bus bombing which killed Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in 2012.
In recent months, Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has threatened Israel with war. In March, Nasrallah warned that the terror organisation was ready to strike anywhere in Israel with “no limits”, including chemical and nuclear facilities: “We can strike any target we want inside occupied Palestine”.