Shin Bet nabs Gaza-directed Hamas cell allegedly behind West Bank shooting attacks
Security agency says ‘military squad’ fired at vehicles under direction of terror operatives in enclave; Palestinian teen held for separate shooting attack at Israeli settlement
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
Israeli security forces arrested an alleged Hamas terrorist cell responsible for a shooting attack on Israeli cars in the northern West Bank earlier this month, the Shin Bet security service revealed Friday.
In the attack during the pre-dawn hours of September 9, an Israeli man was lightly injured after shots were fired at his vehicle as he drove near the Palestinian village of Huwara.
The Shin Bet said the Hamas cell, directed by members of the terror group in the Gaza Strip, fired at least 11 bullets at two Israeli cars during the attack.
Several suspects arrested in recent weeks allegedly told Shin Bet interrogators they were involved in the attack, the internal security agency said. Firearms allegedly used in the attack were also seized.
“The investigation of the suspects is still underway, but from all the information we have, a Hamas military squad, directed by Hamas operatives from the Gaza Strip, is responsible for carrying out the attack,” the Shin Bet said.
Also Friday, the Shin Bet revealed that security forces had arrested a 16-year-old Palestinian allegedly responsible for shooting at a southern West Bank settlement last week.
The teen from the town of az-Zubaidat was accused of shooting at the settlement of Carmel last Thursday, moderately wounding an Israeli teenager studying at a yeshiva.
The Israel Defense Forces said he was arrested last Saturday near the Palestinian village of Um Daraj, two days after the attack.
He also allegedly told investigations that he was linked to the attack, the Shin Bet said, adding that the weapon used was seized.
Palestinian gunmen in recent months have targeted numerous military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.
On Thursday, the IDF said it had recently arrested four Palestinians suspected of shooting at the West Bank settlement of Efrat in July.
Shots were fired early Friday morning toward the West Bank settlement of Har Bracha near Nablus, for the second night in a row, the Israel Defense Forces said, as troops were put on high alert ahead of the upcoming Jewish holidays.
In recent months Israeli troops have also repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
The military launched the arrest operations after a series of deadly attacks that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.
Many of the IDF’s arrests in recent months have concentrated on Nablus and Jenin, in the northern West Bank, where a number of the terrorists who committed the attacks earlier this year hailed from.
Israeli security officials have warned in recent months that the Palestinian Authority is losing control of the northern West Bank.