Jerusalem: Israel`s Shin Bet internal security service said on Monday it had detained more than 20 Palestinians in Ramallah and annexed east Jerusalem on suspicion of planning attacks against Israelis.
The agency said the men belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and were planning to kidnap Israelis, to acquire weapons to carry out shooting attacks and to kidnap a wealthy Palestinian land dealer to fund their plans.
"The Shin Bet together with the Army and police has over the last two months foiled the establishment of a Popular Front military cell in the Ramallah area," a Shin Bet statement said.
Five of the detainees were named, including the alleged ringleader -- 40-year-old Nasser Abu Khadir, a resident of east Jerusalem "with a rich history of terror activity”.
The statement said many of those detained had previously been jailed by Israel for involvement in attacks.
"The members of the cell were arrested after they had already begun preparations for carrying out attacks. This included recruiting members and buying arms," the statement said.
"The arrests before they could fulfil their goals prevented a series of attacks," it said.
The statement did not say if charges had been brought against any of them, but that "the investigation was continuing”.
More than 270,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed shortly after, in a move not recognised by the international community.
Very few of them hold Israeli citizenship although Palestinian residents of the city enjoy special status which allows them free movement throughout Israel, unlike those from the West Bank.