TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised the Shin Bet security agency for thwarting more than 70 terror attacks against Israelis during July and August.
Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting that he was “deeply grateful” to the Shin Bet “and to all those involved in this important work on behalf of the security of Israel.”
He added, “Israeli civilians don’t know everything that the Shin Bet does.”
In August, the Shin Bet exposed a money-transfer apparatus run by the Gaza-based terror group Hamas to fund the families of Palestinian terrorists living in Jerusalem.
Following the attack in which three family members in the West Bank community of Halamish were stabbed to death while celebrating the birth of a new grandson on a Friday night, the Shin Bet arrested 29 Hamas members including a handful of senior operatives.
Head of the Shin Bet Nadav Argaman told ministers at Sunday’s meeting that the Gaza-based terror group has “continued to invest considerable resources in preparation for a future conflict, even at the cost of its citizens’ welfare” and that at this point Hamas is “ready for a conflict with Israel.”
Argaman said that the past three years following the 2014 Gaza war have been the quietest in “three decades” but added that the calm is “deceptive” and the terror group is concentrating on rearming.
According to the security agency chief, Hamas has set up dozens of terror cells in the West Bank with the purpose of carrying out future attacks against Israel. During the past two months, the Shin Bet has dismantled more than 70 such cells.
He also warned that Hamas is establishing a base in Lebanon in a bid to strengthen its ties with Tehran’s “Shiite axis.”
Last month, Hamas’ new prime minister in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, said that the terror group had restored its relations with Iran, which were first severed in 2012 over differences regarding Syria.
“Relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades with money and arms,” Sinwar said, according to Reuters. “The relationship today is developing and returning to what it was in the old days. … This will be reflected in the resistance [against Israel] and in [the Hamas] agenda to achieve the liberation.”
He added that Hamas was “not afraid of a war and [is] ready for it.”
“The Iranian military support to Hamas … is strategic,” he said, stating that the relationship has “become fantastic and returned to its former era.”
While Argaman would not specify where in Lebanon Hamas was setting up base, Channel 2 reported that a senior Hamas terrorist, Saleh al-Arouri, has been spotted in a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut.