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Israel 'captures Hizballah cell led by Nasrallah's son'

Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah (R) continues to haunt Israel [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 January, 2016

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A group of five Palestinians allegedly recruited by the Hizballah chief's son has reportedly been captured by Israel, as Tel Aviv begins military exercises simulating war with Lebanon.
Israeli security forces claimed on Wednesday to have broken up a "Hizballah terrorist cell" based in Tulkarm in the northern West Bank, allegedly set up by Jawad Nasrallah, son of the Lebanese militant group's leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The Shin Bet, Israel's main internal security agency, said five Palestinians were in custody on suspicion of joining a Hizballah cell, saying they were close to carrying out attacks.

Mahmoud Zaalul, a 32-year-old resident of Tulkarm and one of the five, was recruited via social media by Jawad Nasrallah himself, the Shin Bet further claimed.

On Thursday morning, Israel's Channel Ten said the Palestinian Authority assisted the Israeli authorities in uncovering the alleged cell in the West Bank.
 
There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority, but it is known to coordinate closely with Israel in security matters.
Jawad Nasrallah is a self-described poet and author. He is the eldest of Nasrallah's two surviving sons, and is believed to have fought in southern Lebanon in the last conflict with Israel, in 2006.
Jawad Nasrallah is a self-described poet and author. He is the eldest of Nasrallah's two surviving sons, and believed to have fought in southern Lebanon in the last conflict with Israel, in 2006.

Nasrallah's son Hadi was killed in battles with Israel in 1997.

The cell was allegedly instructed to use encrypted communications to receive instructions on how to carry out suicide bombings, assemble bomb vests, gather intelligence, and set up training camps, according to the Shin Bet.

Additionally, members of the cell were ordered to gather intelligence on security personnel operating in the area.

The cell members allegedly asked Hizballah for assistance in getting weapons and funds to carry out attacks.

"Hizballah sent $5,000 from abroad to advance the terrorist plot," the Shin Bet said.
Hizballah is carrying out remote recruitment and activation of terrorist cells, while using the internet covertly

Zaalul, the alleged field commander of the cell, spent time in Israeli prison between 2001 and 2005 for "security offences", while another, Rabah Lavadi, a 28-year-old from Tulkarm, spent 2002-2007 and 2008-2011 behind bars.

The Israeli authorities said Hizballah's Unit 133, responsible for overseeing the Lebanese Shia movement's attacks against Israel, has in recent years tried to set up "terrorist" infrastructure in the West Bank, without success.

The Shin Bet, speculating on Hizballah's intent, said Hizballah was trying to ride the "terrorism wave" striking Israel, in reference to the ongoing violence in the occupied territories, which many believe to be triggered by Israeli occupation policies.

"Hizballah is carrying out remote recruitment and activation of terrorist cells, while using the internet covertly in order to carry out terrorist activities from abroad, keeping a low profile as it does so,” the Shin Bet said.

In Lebanon, Hizballah has yet to comment on the report.

However, pro-Hizballah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, wrote: "It must be said that Hizballah does not deny or hide its support for Palestinians... and spares no effort to assist Palestinian resistance factions materially and militarily."

Israeli press have speculated on Hizballah's possible motives behind setting up the alleged cell, which included theories around the staging of attacks in retaliation for the assassination of its top commander Samir Kuntar in Syria last month.

Hizballah and Russia

Last week, The Daily Beast said Russia was providing advanced weaponry to Hizballah.

According to the report, two of the group's field commanders allegedly told the US-based news website the weapons include precision ground-to-ground missiles,
long-range tactical missiles, laser guided rockets, and anti-tank weaponry.

Russian weapons, Moscow's most advanced, are already in Hizballah's possession 

An Israeli general seems to have confirmed this over the weekend. 

"Russian weapons, Moscow's most advanced, are already in Hizballah's possession," General (res) Yaakov Amidror said at the end of last week, while speaking to a group of new immigrants at a Midrasha Zionit event in Petah Tikva.

Amidror, who was head of the National Security Council two years ago and an adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said that the sophisticated weapons reached Hizballah as a result of the Syrian civil war.

On Wednesday, Israel's military said it had conducted a drill to prepare for simultaneous combat along its northern frontier with Syria and Lebanon, reported AP.

Israel said the two-week exercise combining air, ground and naval forces was aimed at "preparing troops for a long-term multi-front conflict".

Northern Command chief Major-General Aviv Kochavi said it showed how the military was able to "implement operational plans in all arenas".

Israel fought a month-long war against Lebanon's Hizballah militants in 2006. 

On the Syrian frontier, Israel has been warily watching as insurgents battle forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Israel and Syria are bitter enemies but Assad kept the border quiet for decades.

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