Gag Order Lifted

Israel Arrests Hamas, Islamic Jihad Cell Behind Tel Aviv Bus Bomb

Sources say operatives associated with Islamist groups from West Bank village of Beit Lakiya, and recruited Palestinian with Israeli citizenship; Shin Bet: More arrests underway.

Israeli security forces apprehended the suspected perpetrators of a bombing attack on a Tel Aviv bus, it was revealed on Thursday after a gag order was lifted. Shin Bet and police said that the attack was planned and orchestrated by operatives identified with Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

A bomb exploded on a bus in central Tel Aviv at a little after noon Wednesday, wounding at least 30 people. As of Wednesday night six people were admitted to hospital overnight. Of these, three had surgery for moderate injuries that were described as not life-threatening, and three had mild injuries only. The rest of the people who were injured in the incident were treated for minor injuries and released.

Click here to subscribe to Haaretz for only $1 for the first month

On Thursday, security sources said they apprehended the operatives responsible for the attack, and that they were apprehended in an extensive arrest operation on Wednesday.

According to the sources, operatives linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihad admitted in their interrogation to preparing the bomb used in the attack, as well as to choosing the target of the attack and purchasing the cell phone used to remotely detonate the device.

The Shin Bet said that most of those arrested were from the West Bank village of Beit Lakiya, adding that they recruited a resident of the Israeli Arab town of Taibeh, who originally resided in Beit Lakiya but was granted Israeli citizenship for in order to unite his family.

Like Haaretz on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Tumblr

In order to allow his entrance into Tel Aviv, suspected cell members took a car belonging to the man's Israeli employer, which the Israeli citizen then used to enter the city and place the bomb. He subsequently updated Y., who security forces think is the cell's commander in Beit Lakiya.

Shin Bet sources said that the investigation was pending, and that additional arrests were expected.

Following the attack on Wednesday, security officials suggested that the device was relatively small, and consequently caused fewer and less severe casualties than a more powerful bomb would.

After the incident police officers combed the surrounding streets and beyond in an effort to apprehend the perpetrator and anyone who might have assisted him or her, including with transportation.

Central District Police Commander Benzi Sau announced the force's highest state of alert, "Code Dagger" after the attack. The heightened policing level, which including roadblocks at major roads and intersections, blocked traffic throughout Tel Aviv for several hours.

Daniel Bar-On