6 April 2002

Yesterday’s Strike on a Terror Squad in Tubas
(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

In a preemptive action of IDF security forces operating in the village of Tubas, located in the northern West Bank, a Hamas terror squad belonging to the Izzadin Al Qassam Brigade was intercepted. Leading this squad was the most senior operative active today in the area, Qais Adwan.

1. Kais Adwan, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp, was born in 1977 and has been a senior military operative of Hamas and among the commanding leaders of the Izzadin Al Qassam Brigade in the Jenin area. In the past, he was a student at A’Najah University, an institution well known as a "training ground" for prominent terrorist leaders. In this capacity, Adwan served as head of the Islamic Students Association, linked with the Hamas movement. Adwan was wanted in Israel in recent years in connection with his involvement in the planning, recuritment and execution of a number of the more deadly suicide attacks in Israel. Adwan is among the senior military operatives of the Izzadin Al Qassam Brigade – the military arm of the Hamas in the northern West Bank.

Recently he took part, together with other Hamas operatives from other regions, in planning the suicide attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya which claimed the lives of 26 Israelis. It was also Adwan who recruited the suicide bomber and oversaw the execution of the attack on the Matzah restaurant in Haifa in which 16 Israelis were killed and dozens injured.

Other attacks for which Adwan was responsible or in which he took an active role include:

– The deadly attack at Mei Ami in which Zayid Qilaani shot at an explosive charge in his possession, blowing up the Israeli taxi in which he and others were sitting. The result was one Israeli fatality and others wounded.

– The suicide bombing at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001 in which Adwan was directly responsible for the recruiting and dispatching of the suicide bomber. 15 people lost their lives in this bombing and dozens were injured.

– Adwan was responsible for the recruiting of Shakr Habishi from the Israeli Arab village of Abu Snaan and sending him to bomb the railway station in the northern town of Nahariya in September 2001 in which 3 were killed and dozens were injured.

– Adwan was involved in the suicide attack on a bus in the city of Haifa in December 2001 in which 16 were killed and dozens were injured.

– During February 2002, Issan Abu Samda, a Hamas operative from a village next to Jenin, was detained in the vicinity of Ramallah. When questioned, he reported having been recruited by Kais Adwan in order to execute a suicide attack in the Jerusalem area. Abu Samda was detained at a check-post on his way to commit this attack.

– In the interrogation of Salim Haja, a senior Hamas operative arrested in recent days by the IDF in Ramallah, he confessed to his collaboration with Adwan which included: the production of explosive charges, the dispatching of suicide bombers on suicide attacks, and the recruitment of activists for terror activity.

– Over the past few days, Adwan worked together with other terrorists carrying out additional attacks assuming different forms: suicide, laying explosive charges, launching Qassam rockets and more. Adwan is considered among the "engineers" of Hamas, those specializing in the preparation of explosives. He had been, for all purposes, a supreme authority within the Hamas military structure in the Jenin area and worked in tandem with Hamas military activists from all the other regions. He played a prominent role in the building of the "Qassam" rocket and in disseminating throughout the West Bank the knowledge required for its production.

In addition to Kais Adwan, the squad was comprised of five other terrorists:

1. Asraf Tamza Hamza Dragma, a resident of the village of Tubas (under the security control of the Palestinian Authority), was born in 1973.

Tamza is a chief Hamas member who headed a Hamas military squad in the village. He was arrested three times; his last arrest took place during the years 1995-1998 due to his activity in Hamas and the kidnapping of suspected collaborators. He was recently detained by the Palestinian Authority but he continued his hostile terrorist activities even during his arrest.

Asraf is directly responsible for the terrorist shooting attack of March 3, 2002 in the exercise zone of Hamam El-Maliach base in the Jordan Valley which led to the killing of an Israeli soldier and the injury of three others; he is also responsible for several shooting attacks and bombings in the area. Asraf was associated with senior Hamas activists in that zone; he was responsible for the distribution of fighting equipment, and headed a military Hamas group which gathered information regarding IDF forces and civilians and planned additional terrorist attacks which would have taken place during these days.

2. Sa’ad Hassin Ahmad Awad – born in 1977 in Rafiah, a Hamas operative who has been living in Tulkarm and recently in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus. He was imprisoned in Israel between the years 1995 and 1998 and admitted during his investigation his involvement in Hamas military activity which included shooting attacks. He was imprisoned in Ganid Prison from September 1999, and was released before the beginning of the intifada. From November 2001, the Hamas terrorist infrastructure from the Gaza Strip provided Sa’ad with knowledge regarding the production of Qassam Rockets. Sa’ad used the knowledge he acquired regarding the manufacturing of Qassam rockets and joined senior activists from the northern West Bank belonging to the Hamas and the Tanzim for the manufacturing of the rockets in order to launch them towards Israeli targets.

For instance, Sa’ad took part in the manufacturing of Qassam rockets which were seized this February by IDF forces while being transported to Jenin. Sa’ad has recently collaborated with a Hamas military terrorist infrastructure in Jenin which was responsible for many deadly attacks in Israel, including the attack on the Matza restaurant in Haifa. In addition to manufacturing explosive charges and Qassam rockets, Sa’ad recruited activists for the Hamas infrastructure and took part in a few shooting terrorist attacks in the northern West Bank.

3. Magdi Muhammad Hussein Blasme – born in 1976 in the village of Dir Saraf, a Fatah military operative. Blasme was a member of a group of terrorists who belong to various organizations, which is responsible for several shooting attacks and explosive charges in the territories during the al-Aksa intifada. After Sa’ad Awad joined this group in October 2001, Magdi became his chief deputy in manufacturing Qassam rockets, a task from which both of them had acquired information that originated in the Gaza Strip. Blasme worked with senior members of both the Hamas and in the Tanzim and also planned to carry out deadly terrorist attacks in Israel.

4. Muhammad Ahmed Taufik Qamil – born in 1974, a resident of Kabatiya and a Hamas military operative in his region who has recently cooperated with senior Hamas operatives in Jenin, Kais Adwan and Naser Grar. Qamil had been arrested in Israel a few times in the past due to his activity in the Hamas. He was recently involved in the preparation of explosive charges in a terrorist lab in the Jenin area; he aided wanted suspects such as Kais Adwan, the latter having performed brutal terrorist attacks on Israel such as the attack on the Matza restaurant in Haifa which claimed the lives of 16 Israelis, as well as an attempt to bring a vehicle rigged with explosives and the shooting attack in Hamam El-Maliach in which an IDF officer was killed and others were injured. During the past few days he cooperated with the wanted Hamas suspects in order to perform additional terrorist attacks.

5. Munkaz Muhammad Sa’id Soafta – a resident of the village of Tubbas, born in 1973. Soafta was a Hamas member and assisted wanted military suspects. Soafta’s assistance included providing shelter to the five wanted Hamas members at his home in Tubas.