East Jerusalemite with Islamic State ties arrested for bombings at bus stops in city
Shin Bet and police say Eslam Froukh committed deadly attack in November on his own, allegedly planned further attacks before being detained
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
The Shin Bet security agency and Israel Police on Tuesday revealed that security forces had arrested a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem with ties to the Islamic State jihadist group for a deadly double bombing attack in the capital last month.
In the attack on November 23, Eslam Froukh, 26, allegedly set off two bombs at two bus stops near entrances to the capital. The attacks killed two people — 16-year-old Aryeh Schupak and 50-year-old Tadese Tashume Ben Ma’ada — and wounded over 20.
According to the Shin Bet, Froukh, a resident of Kafr ‘Aqab in East Jerusalem who lived much of the time in the Ramallah area, committed the attack because of his affiliation with Islamic State.
As a holder of an Israeli residency card, Froukh was not hampered by the same restrictions on movement that apply to West Bank Palestinians.
The agency said Froukh, a mechanical engineer by trade, acted alone and taught himself how to make the bombs used in the attack, using guides from the internet.
The Shin Bet said Froukh had sought to detonate another bomb as security and medical forces treated the victims at the scene of the second attack, but ran into technical issues and did not end up planting it.
In the days after the attack, security forces near the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim found several items apparently used by the terrorist in the attack, including a motorized scooter, a helmet, spare clothes — used before, during, and after the attack — and five pipe bombs.
The Shin Bet said these items helped them identify the attacker, who was arrested several days later.
In another area of the West Bank, near Ramallah, security forces located the site where Froukh allegedly tested his explosive devices. The Shin Bet said troops seized explosive materials, a makeshift submachine gun and a primed bomb similar to the ones used in the Jerusalem attack.
The agency said it suspected Froukh planned to commit another attack using the explosive device and the weapon.
Several other suspects were arrested in the days following the bombing, but were all released.
Prosecutors are expected to file an indictment against Froukh in the coming days, which will include murder and other terror charges.
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid hailed the arrest of Froukh, saying Israel would reach “any terrorist or terror group.”
“I followed the complex investigation closely and was updated on its details. I congratulate the Shin Bet, the police, the IDF and all the security forces for the investigation that led to the capture of the terrorist,” he said in a statement.
“As we promised — we got to him. Israel will reach any terrorist who harms its citizens, and will deal with them with the full severity of the law,” he added.
The bombings came amid heightened tensions, following a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 31 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year.