(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Office)

Nineteen Hamas terrorists from Kalkilya were arrested last month in a joint ISA-IDF operation. They were planning to explode a vehicle laden with approximately 100 kg. of explosives in the greater Tel Aviv area during Passover.

In the context of a wave of arrests that was carried out recently in Kalkilya, it has become clear that Hamas is working to immediately perpetrate serious attacks, including against the Israeli home front, following a period in which the organization built up its strength and its capabilities.

From ongoing ISA investigations, it is evident that the terrorists intended to perpetrate a series of various attacks including the aforementioned. A commercial vehicle had already been prepared and loaded with approximately 100 kg. of powerful explosives and considerable shrapnel. The suicide-terrorist drove the vehicle to the central greater Tel Aviv area; however, the attack was not carried out and the vehicle was returned to Kalkilya. During the aforesaid wave of arrests, the vehicle exploded in a "work accident."

The designated suicide-terrorist, a resident of Kalkilya who married a resident of Taibe, carried an Israeli identity card that he had received in the context of family unification. His identity card enabled him to leave and enter Kalkilya in order to collect intelligence, while his vehicle’s temporary Israeli license plate facilitated its use by the Hamas terrorists.

Kalkilya’s proximity to central Israel facilitates the movement of Israelis for both commercial and criminal purposes. In order to avoid harming the quality of life of Kalkilya residents, those holding Israeli and Judea and Samaria identity cards are allowed to enter and leave the city relatively freely. The foregoing is yet another instance in which terrorists have exploited those who receive Israeli identity cards in the context of family unification in order to plan attacks, gather intelligence, transport terrorists, etc.

Hamas’s Kalkilya infrastructure was responsible – inter alia – for the 1 June 2001 suicide-bombing at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium in which 21 people were murdered and 120 were injured. The abovementioned wave of arrests shows that it has succeeded in rebuilding itself and has reached a high level of operational readiness. It is still planning to perpetrate major attacks, including in the immediate term. ISA and IDF counter-terrorist operations are continuing.