Shin Bet: Prisoners freed in Schalit deal returning to terrorism

Lilach Shoval and Israel Hayom Staff

Shin Bet, IDF arrest Palestinian man who was planning terrorist attacks at service road, checkpoint near West Bank city of Nablus • Barakat accepted $60,000 from ex-Palestinian prisoner to carry out attack, was close to obtaining weapon, Shin Bet says.

The Shin Bet arrested a Palestinian man in the West Bank who accepted money from a former Palestinian prisoner living in the Gaza Strip to carry out a terrorist attack against military or civilian targets in Nablus.

The Israel Defense Forces helped the Shin Bet track Amir Barakat (25), who was trying to obtain a weapon for the attack when intelligence operatives arrested him.

The inspiration for the attacks apparently came from Amir Dokan, a former Palestinian prisoner who was released by Israel in the deal with Hamas to free kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Dokan was exiled to the Gaza Strip, but met Barakat while the two were on their way to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Shin Bet, Dokan offered Barakat $60,000 to fire rounds on a service road or to throw a grenade at the Hawara checkpoint, both of which are near Nablus. Barakat accepted the offer.

Following Barakat’s arrest, the Shin Bet warned, “There has been a notable increase recently in military operations by those [prisoners] who were freed in the ‘Schalit deal’ and went to the Gaza Strip.”

In October 2011, Israel agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for Schalit, who was kidnapped and held in the Gaza Strip for more than five years. Gaza-ruling Hamas praised the deal and has sworn that working to free more Palestinian prisoners is a top priority.

In January and February, the Shin Bet, with help from the IDF and Israel Police, arrested Hamas courier Muhammad Sawalma (41) and his operator and brother Ahmed Sawalma after the two were found to be smuggling money for Hamas into the West Bank.

The IDF has said that Hamas is spreading its activities in the West Bank, much to the chagrin of the Fatah-ruled Palestinian Authority, whose bloody conflict with Hamas in 2007 resulted in a power schism that has yet to be reconciled, and which left Gaza in Hamas’s hands.