Trio of Palestinian dentists arrested for pipe bomb attack
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Trio of Palestinian dentists arrested for pipe bomb attack

Blast that severely injured IDF officer in May was triggered by cellphone; Shin Bet finds 59 additional explosive devices

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Shadi Muhammad Ahmad Muhsen, Dr. D'jana Faiz Jamil Nab'han, Dr. Samer Mahmoud Daoud al-Halabiyeh, Dr. Daoud Shehadeh Mahmoud al-Halabiyeh and Mahmoud Aauod Shehadeh al-Halabiyeh were arrested in connection with a pipe bomb attack in May that seriously wounded an IDF officer in the West Bank village of Hizme, the Shin Bet reveals on June 26, 2016. (Shin Bet)
Shadi Muhammad Ahmad Muhsen, Dr. D'jana Faiz Jamil Nab'han, Dr. Samer Mahmoud Daoud al-Halabiyeh, Dr. Daoud Shehadeh Mahmoud al-Halabiyeh and Mahmoud Aauod Shehadeh al-Halabiyeh were arrested in connection with a pipe bomb attack in May that seriously wounded an IDF officer in the West Bank village of Hizme, the Shin Bet reveals on June 26, 2016. (Shin Bet)

Three Palestinian dentists, a nurse and one other man were arrested for allegedly carrying out a pipe bomb attack that seriously injured an IDF officer at the entrance to the Palestinian village of Hizme last month, the Shin Bet security service revealed Sunday.

On the night of May 10 — just after the start of Israel’s Memorial Day — the Israeli patrol was struck by an improvised explosive device, composed of four pipe bombs, which was detonated next to Lt. Shachar Roditi’s face, severely wounding him.

The five terror cell members were arrested in the days following the attack, the Shin Bet said, but details of the case were kept under a gag order until Sunday.

Dr. Samer Mahmoud Daoud al-Halabiyeh, a dentist from Abu Dis outside of Jerusalem, is believed to be the operation’s ringleader, who both placed and detonated the pipe bombs that hit Roditi.

During their investigation, Israeli forces also uncovered 59 additional explosive devices that were allegedly created in order to carry out future attacks, the Shin Bet said.

Halabiyeh, 36, told interrogators he began planning the attack in February because of the “desecration of Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian children injured by Israel,” the Shin Bet says in a statement.

Emergency services at the scene of an explosion next to a West Bank checkpoint outside of the Palestinian village of Hizme, May 10, 2016. (Screencapture)
Emergency services at the scene of an explosion next to a West Bank checkpoint outside of the Palestinian village of Hizme, May 10, 2016. (Screencapture)

Along with Halabiyeh, who is believed to have set off the bomb with his cellphone, the Shin Bet and the army’s undercover Duvdevan Unit arrested four other Palestinians who are suspected of having helped Halabiyeh in his attack and during its aftermath, the security service says.

His brother, Dr. Daoud Shehadeh Mahmoud al-Halabiyeh, and his cousin Shadi Muhammad Ahmad Muhsen were arrested for allegedly bringing the IEDs used in the attack from Halabiyeh’s dental practice, the Shin Bet said.

Halabiyeh’s 64-year-old father, Mahmoud Aauod Shehadeh al-Halabiyeh, who works as a nurse in a local hospital, was also arrested on suspicion that he tried to remove evidence from the clinic, the security service said.

Dr. D’jana Faiz Jamil Nab’han, 36, from the Qalandiya refugee camp was also arrested for assisting Halabiyeh in his crime, though the Shin Bet did not elaborate on his role.

Israeli forces also recovered dozens of other explosive devices from Halabiyeh’s dental practice, which they believe were going to be used in future attacks.

Fifty-six small pipe bombs, two firebombs and a large U-shaped pipe bomb were discovered in the clinic. Some were already prepared with fuses and one was connected to a cellphone, the Shin Bet said.

“According to the assessments of professionals, these were explosive devices that were potentially lethal,” the service said in a statement.

Lt. Roditi suffered severe wounds to the face and upper body as a result of the attack. Doctors from Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital operated on the young officer for over 12 hours after the attack to remove shrapnel and repair some of the damage caused by the blast.

Roditi left the hospital on May 23 to recover at home.

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