IDF says troops arrest suspect behind attempted bus bombing in West Bank settlement

Forces detain four others who allegedly aided in Thursday night’s attack in Beitar Illit; five more wanted Palestinians nabbed in Qalqilya

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

Israeli security forces at the scene where a makeshift bomb was found on a bus, in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, March 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene where a makeshift bomb was found on a bus, in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, March 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli forces on Friday night detained a Palestinian man suspected of planting a makeshift bomb on a bus in a West Bank settlement a night earlier, the military said.

In a joint statement with the Shin Bet security agency and Israel Police, the Israel Defense Forces said the suspect, along with four others who allegedly aided him in the attempted bombing attack, were arrested in the West Bank town of Battir.

On Thursday night, troops searched the settlement of Beitar Illit after the improvised explosive device was found on the bus.

Surveillance camera footage from the bus showed a person leaving the vehicle, before smoke was seen rising from one of the seats, apparently after the device malfunctioned.

Police sappers safely neutralized the IED. Nobody was hurt in the incident.

The IDF said they were given “accurate intelligence information” from the Shin Bet about the suspect’s whereabouts.

Along with the other four suspects, troops also seized a vehicle suspected to have been used by the suspects in the attack, the IDF added.

The five were handed over to the Shin Bet for further questioning.

From Thursday night till early Friday morning, a “terrorist infiltration” alert sounded in the settlement after the suspected improvised explosive device was discovered.

Residents were ordered by the military’s Home Front Command to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows until further notice. The restrictions were lifted at 7 a.m. on Friday, after the military believed the suspect was no longer in the settlement.

Israeli security forces scan the settlement of Beitar Illit, in the West Bank, following a suspected infiltration of a man who placed a makeshift bomb on March 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The attempted attack came shortly after a Palestinian terrorist opened fire on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, wounding three, including one critically.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been high for the past year, with the IDF conducting near-nightly raids in the West Bank amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks. Those tensions have ramped up even further in recent weeks amid a cycle of Israeli raids and Palestinian revenge attacks, as well as an uptick in settler violence.

In a separate arrest raid overnight, the IDF said troops detained five wanted Palestinians in the West Bank city of Qalqilya.

A string of Palestinian attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in recent months left 14 Israelis dead and several more seriously hurt.

At least 77 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.

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