TEL AVIV — The Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization was caught attempting to establish a terrorist network comprising several cells in the West Bank with the goal of orchestrating attacks against Jews in that territory and beyond.
The Palestinian Authority arrested and interrogated some members of the network, which was comprised of gunmen from Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade seeking to make additional money from Hezbollah, PA security sources told WND.
The security sources said Hezbollah sought to pay the chief of each terror cell $400 per month while each regular member would receive $100 per month in salary.
The terrorists-for-hire would get bonus funds for each attack successfully orchestrated, with the amount depending on the size and importance of the attack and the number of Jewish casualties, the sources said.
The terrorist network, the sources said, was the initiative of Qais Obeid, an Israeli Arab and a grandson of former Knesset member Diyab Obeid. Obeid defected to Lebanon and became a senior officer for Hezbollah. Qais Obeid was behind the 2000 kidnapping of Israeli businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was held by Hezbollah until a prisoner swap with Israel in January 2004.
The PA sources said some members of Obeid’s new terrorist network were arrested while others were briefly detained and received stern warnings from the PA against any further contact with Hezbollah.
The information comes as the Israel Defense Force on Tuesday announced that four Palestinian members of a terror cell had been arrested for plotting to attack Jewish worshippers visiting Joseph’s Tomb, considered the third holiest site in Judaism and located in the West Bank city of Nablus.
The IDF said the four terrorists were members of the Iranian-backed Islamic jihad terrorist organization.
The arrests represent the latest alleged Iranian escalation since the signing last month of the international nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Last week, the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad fired four rockets from Syria into Israel. Defense officials here corroborated the Times of Israel report last week quoting a senior Israeli security official saying Saeed Izadi, head of the Palestinian Division of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s al-Quds Force, planned the rocket attack.
The rockets were fired by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Israel officials said.
Two of the projectiles hit open areas on the Golan Heights while two others landed further inside Israel, striking open areas in the Upper Galilee region. All four rockets were fired from the Syrian sections of the Golan Heights, according to the Israel Defense Force.
In one of the heaviest Israeli bombardments against the Syrian regime in years, the IDF returned artillery fire at 14 Syrian military targets in Syria following the rocket attack.
On Friday, the Israel Air Force further struck an Islamic Jihad convoy on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
Even though the latest round of fighting was started by Islamic Jihad and Iran’s Guard force, Hezbollah on Sunday increased its alert level to the highest, Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reported Saturday, “for fear of attempts by Israel to drag Lebanon and Syria into an escalation of a state less than war but more than an operation.”
Hezbollah members were quoted by the newspaper claiming Netanyahu’s government believes that after the signing of the Iran nuclear deal, Israel’s “situation is critical and will soon be tested” with an Israeli escalation.
Joseph’s Tomb is the believed burial place of the son of Jacob who was sold by his brothers into slavery and later became viceroy of Egypt.
Currently, the IDF provides armored buses for monthly Jewish visits to the site.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, which granted nearby strategic territory to the Palestinians, Joseph’s Tomb was supposed to be accessible to Jews and Christians. But following repeated attacks against Jewish worshippers at the holy site by gunmen associated with then-Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat’s militias, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak in October 2000 ordered an Israeli unilateral retreat from the area.
Within less than an hour of the Israeli retreat, Palestinian rioters overtook Joseph’s Tomb and reportedly began to ransack the site. Palestinian mobs reportedly tore apart books, destroying prayer stands and grinding out stone carvings in the Tomb’s interior. A Muslim flag was hoisted over the tomb.
Israel first gained control of Nablus and the neighboring site of Joseph’s Tomb in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Oslo Accords signed by Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin called for the area surrounding the tomb site to be placed under Palestinian jurisdiction but allowed for continued Jewish visits to the site and the construction of an Israeli military outpost at the tomb to ensure secure Jewish access.
Following the transfer of control of Nablus and the general area encompassing the tomb to the Palestinians in the early 1990s, there were a series of outbreaks of violence in which Arab rioters and gunmen from Arafat’s Fatah militias shot at Jewish worshipers and the tomb’s military outpost.
Six Israeli soldiers were killed, and many others, including yeshiva students, were wounded in September 1996 when Palestinian rioters and Fatah gunmen attempted to over take the tomb. Eventually, Israeli soldiers regained control of the site.
The Palestinians continued to attack Joseph’s Tomb with regular shootings and the lobbing of firebombs and Molotov cocktails. Security for Jews at the site increasingly became more difficult to maintain. Rumors circulated in 2000 that Barak would evacuate the Israeli military outpost and give the tomb to Arafat as a “peacemaking gesture.”
In early 2000, the Israeli army began denying Jewish visits to the tomb on certain days due to prospects of Arab violence. Following U.S.-mediated peace talks at Camp David in September 2000, Arafat returned to the West Bank and initiated his intifada. During one bloody week in October 2000, Fatah gunmen attacked the tomb repeatedly, killing two and injuring dozens, prompting Barak to order a complete evacuation of Judaism’s third holiest site Oct. 6.