IDF said to crack down on terror group suspected in deadly bombing

Senior figures in PFLP, whose cell allegedly killed Rina Shnerb in August, reportedly among 27 Palestinians arrested over weekend on suspicion of terror offenses

Illustrative: Israeli forces during a security raid in the West Bank, September 25, 2019. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli forces during a security raid in the West Bank, September 25, 2019. (Flash90)

Among dozens of Palestinians arrested over the weekend are senior activists in a terror organization whose members are suspected in an August bombing that killed an Israeli teenager.

The IDF said Sunday it had arrested 27 people across the West Bank on suspicion of involvement in terror activities. Palestinian media reported that among them were senior figures in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who were detained in the city of Nablus and the nearby Balata refugee camp.

On Saturday night the Shin Bet security service announced it had arrested three Palestinian men suspected of carrying out the deadly terror bombing at a West Bank natural spring that killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl and injured her father and brother last month. The alleged leader of the cell was hospitalized in critical condition overnight in unclear circumstances after a Shin Bet interrogation.

According to the Shin Bet, the suspects were members of the PFLP from the Ramallah area. A fourth man believed to have been involved in the terror cell’s activities was also arrested.

Rina Shnerb, 17, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank on August 23, 2019 (courtesy)

Two of the men were arrested days after the terror attack, while the other two were picked up by security forces over the past two weeks, a Shin Bet official told The Times of Israel.

The security service said the cell was planning additional attacks when the suspects were arrested, including shooting attacks and kidnappings.

During the arrest raids, security forces found and safely detonated an improvised explosive device that the group had made.

On August 23, an IED that had been planted next to the Bubin natural spring in the central West Bank, near the Dolev settlement, was triggered by terrorists as the Shnerb family from the central Israel town of Lod visited the site, killing the daughter Rina and seriously injuring her father Eitan and brother Dvir, 19.

Rina Shnerb was pronounced dead at the scene. Her father and brother were taken by military helicopter to a Jerusalem hospital with serious injuries. They have since been released from the hospital.

Police sappers determined that the bomb had been planted earlier at the spring and was triggered remotely when the family approached it.

Samer Arbid, the suspected ringleader of a terror cell believed to be behind a deadly bombing attack that killed Israeli teenager Rina Shnerb in August 2019, in an undated photograph. (Twitter)

The Shnerb family issued a statement on Saturday night thanking the security forces for the “immense efforts invested in apprehending the murderers.”

The family said it had “full confidence” in the security forces all along and called on the Israeli government to provide “full security for every traveler in every place, to build life where life was taken.”

According to the Shin Bet, the PFLP terror cell was led by Samer Mina Salim Arbid, 44, who has been involved in terrorist activities over the years. During the Second Intifada, he served directly under the head of the PFLP in Ramallah, building IEDs and planning attacks.

Arbid was hospitalized Saturday in critical condition after an interrogation by the Shin Bet security service, his attorneys said.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, which first reported on him being hospitalized, the Shin Bet was given legal permission to employ “extraordinary measures” in its interrogation of Arbid. Such measures can include forcing prisoners into uncomfortable positions, sleep deprivation, shackling and subjecting prisoners to extreme temperatures.

This is typically allowed in cases of a “ticking time bomb,” in which it is thought that the suspect could provide security forces with information that could prevent an imminent attack.

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