Hamas plotting major revenge attack, defense officials say
Hamas is stepping up its efforts to carry out a major terrorist attack in Judea and Samaria to avenge the killing of one of its top operatives in the Gaza Strip, defense officials told Israel Hayom Wednesday. Mazen Faqha was killed in mid-March in what Hamas said was a Mossad assassination. Hamas has vowed to avenge Faqha, even going as far as directly threatening top Israel officials. The military and Shin Bet security agency have been following the group’s efforts very closely, and have stepped up their counterterrorism efforts across Judea and Samaria. Israeli authorities have arrested a number of terrorists operating under explicit instructions from Gaza to carry out attacks, mainly abductions and mass-casualty attacks. Faqha was a close associate of Hamas leader in Gaza.Hamas’ efforts to carry out a major terrorist attack compound existing security tensions, which are expected to escalate further against the backdrop of three coinciding events: The upcoming visit by U.S. President Donald Trump; Jerusalem Day, which this year marks the 50th anniversary of the capital’s reunification; and the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.Israeli security forces are collaborating with their Palestinian counterparts and the joint counterterrorism efforts have prevented dozens of attacks over the past few months. Defense officials predict that if a diplomatic breakthrough is achieved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during Trump’s visit, terrorists will consequently step up their efforts to carry out attacks.