Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser

Members of a Hamas infrastructure in Ramallah, which worked to produce Kassam rockets, were arrested in a joint IDF-ISA operation during the night of 6-7.1.04. Among those arrested were the head of the infrastructure, Fadal Taha, and five other Hamas terrorists who had acted as Taha’s assistants. The infrastructure’s laboratory for the production of Kassam rockets, including equipment and Kassam rockets that were in various stages of production, was also seized during the operation.

) The arrest of the cell was made possible thanks to information that was obtained during a wide-ranging December 2003 operation against Hamas’s military infrastructure in Ramallah During the December operation, most members of Hamas’s military HQ in Ramallah were either killed or apprehended. Considerable information was learned from the interrogations of the detainees and from captured documents, including the identities and activities of the aforementioned cell. Fadal Taha, 30, is a resident of Rafat. He was arrested in 2001 for Hamas activities and served two years in an Israeli prison. He admitted to having joined with Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip while in prison. Upon his release in 2003, he immediately resumed his Hamas activities in the Ramallah area and established an infrastructure for producing Kassam rockets under the guidance of Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip whom he had met in prison. This is the second time that a Hamas military infrastructure in Ramallah, that sought to produce Kassam rockets, has been foiled; a similar Hamas infrastructure was foiled in March 2002. The capture of the cell attests to the transfer of Kassam production capabilities from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria.