The IDF and Shin Bet security service yesterday said they had arrested a Palestinian man who was believed to have shot dead seven soldiers and three Israeli civilians in a March 2002 sniper attack at an IDF roadblock north of Ramallah.
The suspect, Fatah activist Ka'ad Hamad, was arrested in the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah, where he lives. Another Palestinian man was also arrested. The sniper killed an IDF officer, six reservists and three civilians.
Armed with a non-automatic rifle, he positioned himself on a hilltop overlooking the roadblock and opened fire at soldiers and Israeli cars. He also fired at first-aid workers arriving on the scene.
Since the incident, an extensive hunt has been conducted for the gunman. The sniper, whose identity remained unknown, became a local hero in the territories. At one point it was claimed that he was an IRA man who had infiltrated the territories to help the Palestinian cause.
This was later refuted and for a time the Shin Bet believed he was a prominent Tanzim activist, who was later killed while preparing a bomb. Hamad, 24, who was arrested on Saturday, confessed to being the sniper and told the Shin Bet that in 1998 he had found an old Mauser and 300 bullets.
He said he used to practice shooting in wadis around his village and. On the day of the incident he first shot at two soldiers at the road block, and later fired on soldiers nearby, he said. After hitting six soldiers, he reloaded the gun. Five minutes later a military jeep arrived at the road block and Hamad opened fire at it. Later he fired at civilian vehicles that arrived.
While he was shooting, the gun exploded in his hands and fell apart. Hamad returned home and went to sleep. He said the entire incident lasted about 20 minutes. IDF representatives yesterday informed the bereaved families of the development in the investigation.