(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

Following an increase in security alerts regarding the intention of Tanzim and Islamic Jihad terrorist infrastructures in Nablus to launch terrorist attacks into Israel, IDF units have – in recent days – been conducting a wide-scale arrest operation in the Balata refugee camp and in the Old City of Nablus.

Due to the increased terrorist activity in the city, Nablus has become one of the primary producers of explosive belts and bombs, which are systematically manufactured and transferred to different terrorist infrastructures in Judea and Samaria, to be used against Israel.

During Sunday night (19 February 2006), IDF units in Nablus killed one wanted terrorist and captured seven others. Soldiers identified several armed terrorists and opened fire at them, killing Ahmed Mahmed Naif Abu Srah, 30, a resident of the Old City of Nablus, and a senior member of the Tanzim terrorist organization.  Abu Srah was involved in the 19 January 2006 suicide bombing at the old Tel Aviv Central Bus Station in which 31 people were wounded, as well as dozens of additional attacks in the Nablus area. Recently, he had been operating under the direction of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization HQ in Syria.  Abu Srah was considered an expert in complex explosive devices, of the kind that were used frequently against IDF units in the past year.  He was also involved in manufacturing explosive belts for the Tanzim and Islamic Jihad in Nablus.

The seven captured terrorists are:

1. Ahmed Muhammad Zuhadi Araisha Marshoud, 22, a resident of the Balata refugee camp.  Araisha is the head of the Islamic Jihad terrorist infrastructure in Nablus. He was directed by Islamic Jihad leaders in the Gaza Strip and was involved in many attacks, including the 19 January 2006 suicide bombing at the old Tel Aviv Central Bus Station in which 30 Israeli civilians were wounded, and the attempted 8 January 2006 infiltration into the Jewish community of Bracha in order to perpetrate a terrorist attack, which was thwarted by IDF units. Araisha was recently involved in additional attempts to perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israel. Many of these attacks were prevented due to the arrest of potential suicide bombers recruited by him, who had intended to perpetrate attacks in the coming days.

2. Iyad Mahmad Mahmoud Massimi, 28, a resident of the Balata refugee camp and a senior Tanzim terrorist. Massimi is one of the top experts on explosives and bomb construction in Nablus, and was involved in preparing the explosive belts used in several attacks against IDF units and in suicide bombings, including the 19 January 2006 suicide bombing at the old Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

3. Wa’al Shakhr Mahmoud Massah, 38, a resident of the Balata refugee camp. A senior Tanzim operative, Massah is also considered to be an explosives expert and one of the senior bomb makers in Nablus. As part of his activity in the organization, Massah was in regular contact with Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.

4. Ahmed Husseini Ali Khalil, 20, a resident of the Balata refugee camp and member of the Tanzim terrorist organization. Over the past two years, Khalil has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks in which explosive devices were detonated against IDF units in the Nablus area. He was currently involved in an attempt to perpetrate a suicide bombing.

5. Ibrahim Husseini Darwish Abu Dra’a, 19, a resident of the Balata refugee camp and member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. On 8 January 2006, he was dispatched by Araisha to infiltrate the Jewish community of Bracha in order to perpetrate a terrorist attack; the attack was thwarted when IDF units prevented him from infiltrating Bracha.

6-7. Qasem Awad Qasem Zaben, 20, and Mahmud Ali Mahed Mahamda, 30, residents of the Old City of Nablus, members of the Tanzim terrorist organization. The two are part of a Tanzim cell in the Old City involved in manufacturing and using explosive devices against IDF units in Nablus. The cell was headed by wanted Tanzim terrorist Ahmed Mahmed Naif Abu Srah.