Shin Bet: Hamas Members Behind Deadly West Bank Shooting Arrested

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Scene of the shooting where Malachi Rosenfeld (pictured in upper left corner) was killed, near Shevut Rahel in the West Bank.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Hamas members suspected of killing an Israeli and wounding three others in a shooting in the West Bank last month have been arrested, it was cleared for publication on Sunday.

According to the Shin Bet, the suspects were members of a militant cell, which was also responsible for another shooting that occurred two days earlier, targeting an Israeli ambulance and other vehicles near Bitin. No one was killed in the shooting.

In their interrogation, the suspects confessed to the deadly shooting near the settlement of Shevut Rahel, and said they attempted to carry out another attack on June 6, 2015, the Shin Bet said.

In the June shooting, Malakhi Moshe Rosenfeld, 26, and three others were driving home to the Kokhav Hashahar settlement from the settlement of Eli when gunshots sprayed onto their car near Shevut Rahel. Eighteen bullets in total struck the vehicle. Rosenfeld sustained critical wounds and died the next day in a Jerusalem hospital. The others sustained moderate wounds.

The attacks were directed by Hamas member Ahmed Najar, who was released from an Israeli prison as part of the 2011 Shalit deal and deported to the Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet said. He has since moved to Jordan, which he uses as a base from which to direct attacks against Israelis, the Shin Bet said.

According to the Shin Bet, Najar transferred funds to the cell through his brother Amjad, a resident of the village of Silwad. Amjad, who was also arrested, confessed to passing on his brother's messages to the cell as well as transferring the funds and weapons used for the shooting, the Shin Bet said. 

The Shin Bet said that several of the cell members were arrested by the Palestinian Authority's security services, among them the cell leader, Maad Hamad, who is suspected of being the shooter.

Among those arrested were also Abdallah Atzhak, a former prisoner, who confessed to driving the vehicle used for the drive-by shooting; Faaz Hamad, a Hamas member, who confessed to assisting in the attacks' planning, and Jamal Younes, Amjad's brother in law, who confessed to moving the car used for the shooting to a wrecking yard and helping in acquiring weapons, the Shin Bet said.

Defense minister points finger at Turkey

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the arrests prove that only through freedom of action for Israeli security services in the West Bank can Israel "strike terror and its instigators, foil attacks and capture murderers."

Ya'alon also said one of the sources of Hamas' attempts to carry out attacks in the West Bank is in Istanbul, where Hamas operative Salah Arouri "plans to carry out serious attacks against us through emissaries in Judea and Samaria, and in neighboring countries."

"Salah Arouri acts on Turkish land – a country that is a member in NATO and at the same time allows a terrorist base to operate in its territory," Ya'alon said.

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