The Israeli Shin Bet intelligence agency announced Tuesday that it arrested 10 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in and around Ramallah on the West Bank several months ago. The men are accused of plotting to kidnap Israeli soliders.
A media blackout was imposed on the arrests, explaining why the agency just announced them, Al-Arabiya reported.
“Shin Bet, with the help of the army and the Israeli police, arrested an armed cell of the PLFP that was preparing to kidnap Israelis who could serve as bargaining chips in exchange for the release of PFLP chief Ahmed Saadat, who is held in Israel,” said the agency in a statement.
Saadat, the general secretary of the PFLP, has been serving a 30-year sentence in an Israeli jail since 2008 for his part in the assassination of Israeli politician Rehavam Ze'evi as well as other attacks, Ynet News said.
Two of the suspects, Ashraf Abu Aram, 26, and Muhammad Zeitoun, 26, are being tried before a military tribunal. The other eight are being charged with "terror activities against soldiers."
Shin Bet says Abu-Aram and Zeitoun confessed to the plot, and were attempting to purchase guns with the goal of either opening fire on an Israeli Defense Force unit or kidnapping an Israeli hitchhiker.
The PFLP is a left-wing group under the umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. It is the second largest group in the alliance, the largest being Fatah, the party that is currently in power in the West Bank.
Shin Bet's announcement occurred on the same day that a senior Hamas leader called for "a third intifada" against Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.