(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)

In a joint IDF, ISA and Prison Service operation in the Mukata compound in Nablus, which began on July 19, 2006, security forces arrested a number of wanted members of different terror organizations, responsible for planning and directing terror attacks, including agents of the Hizbullah terror organization.

In the past three days IDF forces surrounded the compound, where the wanted terrorists were hiding, and continuously called on them to exit the compound. The wanted men did not comply, and on several occasions opened fire at the forces. Exchanges of fire ensued between forces and the gunmen.

As the wanted men continued to barricade themselves inside, refusing to leave the compound, forces began using different means in order to get them out, while still calling on the men to come out peacefully.
Eventually, some of the wanted men did come out and were arrested by the forces. Forces continued to call on the others to leave the compound.

Eventually, after three days of such attempts, forces demolished the buildings in the compound in which the remaining wanted terrorists were still hiding.

During the operation, several violent riots developed around the forces, in which cinderblocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the forces, the latter lightly injuring a soldier. Forces responded with riot dispersal means.

The decision to carry out the operation comes after a long period of time during which wanted Palestinians have been staying in facilities belonging to the Palestinian security apparatuses in Nablus, against the wishes of the commanders of these security apparatuses. These wanted Palestinians belong to different terrorist organizations and have been planning terrorist attacks that they intended to carry out in the immediate future.

Among the wanted Palestinians staying in the Mukata compound were a number of senior wanted terrorists under the command of Hizbullah leadership in Lebanon. This Lebanese terror organization has in the past days intensified its attempts to launch terrorists and suicide bombers into Israel via its agents in Gaza and the West Bank, in order to create an additional combat front for Israel. The presence of the wanted men in the Palestinian Authority’s compounds is a part of Hezbollah’s attempts to undermine the activity of Palestinian security forces in Nablus and to gain control over the Palestinian Authority’s government institutions.

The IDF will continue its activity against the terror infrastructure in Nablus and in the West Bank in general, and will employ all means at its disposal against these organizations in order to maintain the safety of the citizens of Israel.

Background information
(Communicated by Israeli security sources)

Following are details on a number of the wanted Palestinians arrested in the Mukata compound:

Naal Mahmad Saliman Yassin, 30, a senior wanted operative in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who received orders and funding from Hizbullah in Lebanon. Yassin is a former PA policeman.

On September 29, 2000, Yassin murdered a Border Policeman during a joint patrol in Qalkilya when he opened fire at his Israeli colleagues. Following the murder Yassin went underground, and only in 2006 resumed his terror activity, rejoining activities in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades infrastructure in Nablus, while receiving funds from Hizbullah in Lebanon.

In June 2006 Yassin was responsible for the abduction of Benjamin Fishbein, an American student, during his visit to Nablus. He was released only after identifying himself as an American citizen. Yassin was planning additional abductions in the Nablus area.

As part of his activity in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Yassin was involved in locating and recruiting terrorists to carry out suicide bombings, and directed cells in the villages surrounding Nablus. He was responsible for several attack attempts on IDF forces in Atzira a-Shamalia, thwarted due to joint IDF and ISA operations.

A week ago, forces thwarted an attempt to detonate a 20kg explosive device against an IDF force in Azira a-Shamalia, which was guided by Yassin. The explosives were uncovered following the arrest of members of the cell which planned the attack.

Fuad Jamal Hassin Azi, 21 from the Balata R.C. in Nablus. A wanted Tanzim terrorist, he received funds and guidance from Hizbullah and from terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.

In the past few years Azi was involved in recruiting a large number of potential suicide bombers, and in attempts to dispatch them for bombing attacks. Azi was also responsible for manufacturing dozens of explosive belts and explosive devices, which were used in suicide bombing attempts and in attempts to plant roadside bombs against civilian vehicles in the Nablus region.

Abed Al Maaz Yusef Abdullah Barham, 20, a resident of the Balata refugee camp, and a wanted Tanzim terrorist.

Barham also received guidance and funding from Hizbullah. Under Hezbollah’s guidance, Barham attempted to carry out a bombing attack in Tel Aviv several months ago, using a bomb activated by a mobile phone. The attack was thwarted by Israeli security forces. Another attack was thwarted in May 2006, when security forces arrested a suicide bomber who was recruited by Barham.

In the past few months, Barham was involved in manufacturing large numbers of explosive devices. Under his direct guidance, some of these bombs were planted on roads leading to Israeli communities in the Nablus area. The devices were uncovered by IDF patrols and were detonated by the security forces before they could be used against civilians.

Rama Mahmud Shafik Shabrawi, 24, resident of the Balata refugee camp in Nablus. Shabrawi was involved in attempts to carry out attacks against Israeli communities in Samaria and in the manufacturing of explosive devices.

Ballal Abed Al Guad Ahmad Zarik, 27, resident of the Balata refugee camp, a wanted Tanzim terrorist. Zarik is a senior member of a terror cell responsible for carrying out numerous shooting attacks in the area of Nablus in the past few years, including an attack in which two Israeli civilians were murdered in January 2005, near Tapuah junction.
Zarik’s cell is guided and funded by the Hizbullah terror organization. The cell routinely interrogated and murdered Palestinians who were suspected of cooperation with Israel, including a gruesome murder of a Palestinian whose body was abused.

Atallah Mahmad Atallah Hashash, 33, resident of the Balata refugee camp, served as head of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades cell in Balata, which was mostly involved in purchasing weapons of all kinds from dealers in the West Bank and in the Negev area. These weapons were sold to terrorist organizations in the West Bank, who use it in terror attacks against Israeli civilians.