Shin Bet: We've Caught Hamas Cell Behind Murder of Israeli Policeman

Yehoshua 'Shuki' Sofer was shot dead in June in attack on his vehicle in southern Hebron Hills.

Officials from Israel's Shin Bet security service said Monday that the agency recently apprehended several members of the Hamas military wing believed to be behind the murder of an Israeli police officer last month.

Hamas shooting attack in the West Bank, June 2010
AP

Details of the detentions were released after a gag order on the case was lifted.

Advanced Staff Sergeant Major Yehoshua "Shuki" Sofer, 39, was shot dead on June 14 when his vehicle was ambushed in the southern Hebron Hills. Sofer was the first Israeli to be killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank this year; two other police officers were also wounded.

A Palestinian group calling itself "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - Imad Mughniyeh Group" had initially claimed responsibility for the attack on a routine transport of officers from Be'er Sheva to the police station in Hebron.

The Shin Bet says that they detained several Hamas members in the village of Deir Samet on June 22, six days after Sofer was killed. The detainees told investigators that they were members of a terror cell formed last year with the intention of carrying out gun attacks in the southern Hebron Hills.

Four members of the group allegedly took part in the attack that killed Sofer. One allegedly served as a lookout while the three others sat in a car at the side of the road in order to open fire on the passing police vehicle.

The Shin Bet said the suspects re-enacted the attack and also handed over the rifles they were using at the time.

It is unclear, however, who is responsible for the establishment of this group, which is reportedly affiliated to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. Israeli security sources have been examining the possibility that the gunmen behind the June 14 attack were from various Palestinian militant groups.