The operatives of the Palestinian terrorist squad handled by Hezbollah in Tulkarm (Israel Security Agency, January 21, 2016).
- The Israeli security forces recently exposed a five-man terrorist squad in Tulkarm that planned to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel, including a shooting attack. The squad was headed by Muhammad Zaghloul, a Palestinian from Tulkarm, and handled by Hezbollah in Lebanon. During the past year, the operatives were involved in throwing and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces. None of them belonged to a Palestinian terrorist organization. Two of them also served sentences in Israeli jails.
- Interrogation revealed they had been handled by Hezbollah's Unit 133, a Hezbollah unit which has tried to establish terrorist networks among the Palestinians, but so far without success. The head of the squad, Muhammad Zaghloul, was recruited via the Internet by Jawad Nasrallah, the son of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and handled by a Hezbollah operative in Lebanon aka Fadi. Muhammad Zaghloul was asked to open an email account and the two used it to communicate. He was also asked to recruit other operatives for a squad and gather information about various targets in preparation for terrorist attacks.
- The squad asked Hezbollah for money and weapons for attacks. Hezbollah sent them $5,000via a forex company ($5,000 of the $25,000 authorized by Hezbollah). When the money arrived, two of the operatives bought a sub-machine gun and a full magazine and planned to carry out a shooting attack targeting IDF soldiers. Apparently the plan was ready for execution because when the two were detained they had the gun with them. A court handed down indictments for all five (For the squad's modus operandi see Appendix A).
- The exposure of the squad was another illustration how the social networks are used to recruit and handle terrorist operatives from a distance. Hezbollah, like other terrorist organizations, including ISIS, adopted the Internet and social networks to recruit terrorist squads. Thus Hezbollah can overcome the distance between handlers in Lebanon and terrorist squads recruited in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and handle them covertly, keeping a low signature.
- Hezbollah's terrorist activities in Israel, Judea and Samaria are part of Iran's overall policy towards Israel. To implement its policy, Iran uses proxies, such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist organizations. During the second intifada Iran and Hezbollah made efforts to recruit and handle terrorist squads in Judea and Samaria. After it ended they transferred their efforts to the Gaza Strip (see Appendix B). Thus, the exposure of the squad in Tulkarm, and previous attempts made by Hezbollah's Unit 133 to carry out terrorist attacks, show that Iran continues sponsoring terrorism and initiates Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel.
- For additional information about the terrorist squad in Tulkarm, see Appendix A. For an overview of Hezbollah's previous attempts to initiate terrorist attacks in Israel, Judea and Samaria, see Appendix B.
Most of the information about the exposure of the terrorist squad is based on the Israel Security Agency website with additions from Ynet, January 21, 2016.