After 16 years, Israel arrests Fatah-linked terrorist for killing of IDF soldier

Alam al-Ra’i, 42, held for firing at Israelis near Nablus in April; during probe Shin Bet finds he was part of cell that set off 2006 bomb that killed Staff Sgt. Osher Damari

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Staff Sgt. Osher Damari, 20, who was killed in a 2006 bomb blast in Nablus (Courtesy)
Staff Sgt. Osher Damari, 20, who was killed in a 2006 bomb blast in Nablus (Courtesy)

The Shin Bet security agency revealed Thursday that it had arrested a Palestinian member of the mostly dormant Tanzim terror group who was allegedly responsible for a 2006 bomb attack that killed an Israeli soldier.

Alam al-Ra’i, 42, a resident of Nablus, was arrested for at least two shooting attacks at Israelis near Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of the West Bank city and in other areas nearby in April, the Shin Bet said.

During his interrogation, the Shin Bet found al-Ra’i was part of a cell that set off a bomb during a raid in Nablus on July 17, 2006, killing Staff Sgt. Osher Damari, 20, and wounding several other soldiers.

The Shin Bet said al-Ra’i was responsible for several more attacks against Israeli soldiers between 2005 and 2007, while part of the same Tanzim cell, and in later years committed dozens more shootings and explosive attacks, some of which wounded troops.

The April shooting attacks near Nablus were directed by a terror operative in the Gaza Strip, according to the Shin Bet. Al-Ra’i received payment for working to recruit others and committing the attacks, the agency said.

An indictment against Al-Ra’i, charging him with “numerous serious security offenses, with above all the murder of the soldier Osher Damari” was to be filed later Thursday, the Shin Bet said.

Alam al-Ra’i, 42, in an undated photograph published by the Shin Bet on July 21, 2022. Al-Ra’i is accused of several shooting attacks and a deadly bombing attack in 2006. (Shin Bet)

Tanzim, an armed militia founded in 1995 and loosely affiliated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party, was a key player in violent demonstrations at the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Its leader then was Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in jail for orchestrating deadly terror attacks.

While the group has not been blamed for any major attacks in almost two decades, Israel said it arrested its leader in 2016.

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