Middle East expert and political commentator Yoni Ben-Menahem told Arutz Sheva that the arrest of senior Hamas official Hassan Yousef on Monday night was intended to thwart a planned wave of Hamas suicide bombings.
"Sheikh Hassan Yousef is among the most prominent leaders in the (West) Bank, and he has an important role in the (Hamas) organization," explaiend Ben-Menahem. "He's already sat in an Israeli jail. As is known, his son was recruited by the Shabak (Israel Security Agency) and termed the Green Prince."
The expert explained that Youssef "had an important role in leading Hamas and conducting attacks. His arrest is a preventative arrest, after Israeli security sources in recent days spread notices that the Hamas leadership gave an order to military infrastructure in Judea and Samaria to conduct suicide bombings against Israel to escalate the 'knife intifada.'"
However, Ben-Menahem reasons it won't be easy to get information from the Hamas terrorist in investigation, saying, "he's an experienced and clever man, I don't estimate that it will be easy to break him in interrogation."
"Leaders of his level don't hide and also aren't considered wanted suspects."
Turning his attention to Hamas's standing in Judea and Samaria, he said, "today there's criticism against Hamas in the (West) Bank, that it hasn't joined the intifada. In particular there's criticism against Hamas in Gaza that it has rockets and missiles (and isn't firing them)."
While Hamas has actively encouraged and praised the ongoing series of terrorist attacks against Israelis – churning out reams of propaganda and even instructions for potential "lone wolf" terrorists – very few of the recent attacks were carried out by centralized Hamas terrorist cells.
One exception was the murder of Eitam and Naama Henkin in front of their four children last month. A five-man Hamas cell was responsible for that brutal killing.
"Hamas leadership is tying to defend itself; deputy bureau head (Mousa) Abu Marzouk explained that if they renew the rocket fire it will harm the popular intifada because all the focus will shift to Gaza, and Israel will respond with a military action which will remove the attention from the popular struggle."
"You need to remember that the one who gives the order to conduct attacks is the Hamas leadership abroad led by Khaled Mashal," explained the expert. "Therefore, today Hamas is trying to find middle ground via suicide bombings, and on that background there's a concern that suicide bombings will be launched."