The terror cell suspected of carrying out last week’s deadly shooting attack in the northern West Bank last week belongs to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, the Shin Bet security service said Sunday.
In the predawn hours of Sunday morning, Israeli security forces conducted a series of raids in in the northern West Bank village of Silat al-Harithiya, near Jenin, arresting at least six people in connection with the terror attack outside the illegal outpost of Homesh last Thursday, in which one man, Yehuda Dimentman, was killed and two others were lightly wounded.
The military initially refrained from commenting on any ties between the suspects and terror groups, but later the Shin Bet confirmed that they were believed to be members of Islamic Jihad.
The Islamic Jihad did not take responsibility through its official channels, but a spokesperson for the group’s military wing in the West Bank was quoted by Hamas-affiliated media as saying it was behind for the attack. The spokesman said it was retaliation for the death of Jamil al-Kiel, a Palestinian man who was shot by Israeli troops last week, during a clash in Nablus in which he allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at them.
Palestinian officials identified the arrestees as Muhammad Youssef Jaradat, Ibrahim Musa Tahaineh, Mahmoud Ghaleb Jaradat, Taher Abu Salah, Ghaith Ahmed Yassin Jaradat, and Omar Ahmed Yassin Jaradat.
Two of the suspects were believed to have conducted the actual shooting, while the rest were suspected of helping them and otherwise being involved in the cell.
The six men, arrested at three locations in the overnight raid, were all handed over to the Shin Bet for interrogation. The guns that were suspected of having been used in the attack, as well as the car that was allegedly used to ferry them to the scene, were seized in the raids.
IDF Spokesperson Ran Kochav said the military believed that the arrests of the cell members likely prevented additional attacks and could lead to further arrests.
Two gunmen opened fire at Dimentman and the two other men as they left Homesh on Thursday night. A military official said their car was ambushed from the side of the road.
The 25-year-old Dimentman, a father of a 9-month-old, was a student at the yeshiva, or religious school, near where the attack took place and lived in the nearby Shavei Shomron settlement. Homesh was an Israeli settlement that was evacuated in 2005 as part of then-premier Ariel Sharon’s so-called disengagement, but has since become the site of the illegally operated yeshiva.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hailed the arrest of the suspects, saying in a statement: “Every terrorist must know that the State of Israel will settle the score with them.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also congratulated the IDF and the Shin Bet on a “prompt, professional and determined operation.”
The past few weeks have seen a rise in Palestinian terror attacks, with four taking place in Jerusalem alone, including a deadly shooting committed by a member of Hamas.
There has also been a noted rise in settler violence toward Palestinians. A group of extremist settlers assaulted Palestinians and vandalized property in a West Bank village near Nablus overnight Thursday, Palestinian media reported Friday, hours after the attack.