An Israeli citizen from the Arab town of Taibe was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of carrying out the Tel Aviv bus bombing that injured 27 people, the media reported Thursday evening, after a gag order on the operation was partially lifted.
The man and several of his accomplices were arrested in a joint operation by the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Defense Forces and police, after a large scale manhunt. The names of those involved were not immediately released for publication. The key suspect, who was described only as a young man, was caught at Modi’in railway station.
The suspect was remanded into custody by a Jerusalem court for 10 days on Friday. Several of his neighbors said it was “inconceivable” that he could have been involved in the attack, and his mother insisted “it cannot be.” His family was said to have disappeared from Taibe.
The gag order pertaining to the matter was lifted late Thursday evening, allowing media outlets to disclose the details of the arrests, which occurred hours after the blast.
According to the Shin Bet, the primary suspect was recruited to carry out the bombing by a terrorist cell based in the West Bank village of Beit Likia, southwest of Ramallah.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the man was connected to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups.
“He admitted to carrying out the terrorist attack,” Rosenfeld said.
The suspect, previously a resident of the West Bank, moved to Israel and was granted Israeli citizenship after applying for it on grounds of family reunification. His wife is from Taibe.
According to the police, the suspect borrowed his employer’s car to transport the bomb into Tel Aviv, then placed it inside the bus. After he planted the bomb, the man, who police declined to identify, left the bus and called his handlers, who remotely detonated the explosive by calling the phone, Rosenfeld said.
The explosion ripped through the #142 bus in central Tel Aviv around noon on Wednesday — the first bombing attack in the city since 2006.
The explosion on the Dan bus took place near the corner of two major Tel Aviv thoroughfares, Shaul Hamelech and Weizmann, in an area with many office buildings and heavy pedestrian traffic, and across the street from the Defense Ministry headquarters.
According to reports, a man was seen placing a bag on the bus and then running away, leading to a police chase through the streets of Tel Aviv and neighboring Ramat Gan. There were also unconfirmed reports of a second suspect.
Israeli security forces began to conduct a search for the perpetrators immediately after the attack, setting up roadblocks around the city of Modi’in and blocking the entrance to the city. Police arrested at least one person in connection with the bombing in the stock market district in Ramat Gan.
Further details about where the arrests took place were not released.