Four members of a seven-strong Hamas cell behind a deadly terror attack in the West Bank last month have been detained by Israel, the Shin Bet security service said Sunday. Two others are being held by the Palestinian Authority.
Malachy Rosenfeld was killed, and three others were wounded, when gunmen opened fire on their car near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah, as they returned from a basketball game.
The cell also carried out an attack on an ambulance close to the settlement of Beit El on June 27, in which no one was wounded; they had attempted to carry out a separate attack on June 6.
The four men were detained in a joint operation between the Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces, according to the Shin Bet. Two other cell members, including its operations leader, are being held by the Palestinian Preventive Security Services.
The Shin Bet said Sunday that the seventh man, Ahmad Najjar, who orchestrated and funded the shooting attack from Jordan, was among the prisoners released by Israel for captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011. He has not been apprehended.
Maath Hammad, who allegedly pulled the trigger, and another suspect are being held by the Palestinian Authority but questioned by the Shin Bet, the security service said.
Six members of the group are from the town of Silwad northeast of Ramallah. The seventh, who is also the father-in-law of one of the other suspects and not identified as a Hamas member, lives in nearby Kusra, the agency said.
Israeli news site Ynet reported that Najjar was previously imprisoned for several shooting attacks, including one that killed six Israelis during the Second Intifada.
The cell members admitted that they had intended to carry out additional shooting attacks in June.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon praised the security forces for apprehending the suspects.
He also accused Turkey of hosting a senior Hamas leader actively planning attacks.
Attempts to activate Hamas cells in the West Bank originate in “Hamas headquarters in Gaza and Istanbul, from where Salah Aruri plans severe attacks against us by proxies in the West Bank and in neighboring countries,” he said in a statement.
“Salah Aruri is acting from Turkey — a NATO member, which at the same time allows a terror base on its territory,” Ya’alon charged.
Marissa Newman and AFP contributed to this report.