TEL AVIV – Recent terrorist events in Israel were orchestrated in part by jihadists freed by the Jewish state in the prisoner exchange that saw the release of captured Israeli solider Gilad Shalit, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials.
The officials did not specify which jihadists were involved, but they said there is information Hamas terrorists released in the 2011 deal helped to plan last Sunday’s thwarted bus bombing in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam.
The same terrorist apparatus was behind the planning of several other recent attacks, including attempts this week to plant bombs near the Gaza-Israel border and the stabbing of an Israeli police officer in the West Bank.
The deal between Israel and Hamas that saw the release of Shalit called for the freedom of 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners, including terrorists directly responsible for the murder of Jews.
The first phase of the swap deal was executed in October 2011, when Israel released 450 prisoners, transferring some to the West Bank and Gaza while others were exiled abroad.
According to defense officials, Hamas has been contracting a semi-independent group, called the Popular Resistance Committees, and another group, Jihadiya Salafia, to carry out the recent attacks.
An Egyptian intelligence official told WND that Hamas is concerned about progress in Secretary of State John Kerry’s talks to create a Palestinian state with the rival Palestinian Authority set to gain from any deal. The official said Hamas is attempting to thwart Kerry’s talks.
The official further said Hamas is nervous about the tightening of restrictions in Gaza imposed by Cairo that have been harming the Strip’s economy.
“Don’t be surprised if Hamas attempts more attacks,” said the official.
In a sign of retaliation against Egypt, Hamas has been renewing its ties with the al-Qaida and other jihadist groups that operate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsulam, the official said.