Israel arrests Gaza militants planning to set up rocket cell in West Bank

Israeli security has arrested three top Palestinian militants on their way from Gaza to the West Bank to set up a cell to fire rockets at Israel, the security service said Sunday.

The service said three leaders of the Gaza Popular Resistance Committees were arrested by Shin Bet security agents in Israel's Negev desert after exiting Gaza through a tunnel to Egypt and infiltrating into Israel over the lightly guarded Israel-Egypt border.

The three, with funding from Hamas and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, planned to set up a cell in the West Bank to make homemade rockets to fire at Israeli cities.

They were arrested Oct. 5, but the news was kept under wraps until now, according to the security service. The three are to appear in court on Monday for arraignment. An Egyptian guide was also arrested.

The head of the cell is Sharif Ziyada, 34, an explosives expert, who was carrying a loaded pistol and computer files with instructions, the service said.

The three bribed Egyptian police at the Gaza border to let them pass, it said.

Gaza militants have fired hundreds of "Qassam" rockets at Israeli towns just outside Gaza, and Israeli security has warned that with Israel's pullout from Gaza last month, militants are shifting their focus to the West Bank.

Up to now, West Bank militants have not fired rockets or mortars at Jewish settlements and Israeli towns, AP reported. V.A.

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