The Israeli army and Palestinian security forces have detained six Palestinian whom they describe as ‘Hamas operatives’ responsible for a shooting in the occupied West Bank, last month, that left one Israeli settler dead and three injured, the Israeli army said in a statement, Sunday.According to Ma’an, the statement identified the alleged shooter as Mehad Hamad, a 26-year-old resident of Silwad northeast of Ramallah.
It claimed that he and the other five had ‘confessed’ to carrying out the attacks, although it later added that the investigation only ‘suggest(ed)’ he had personally committed the shootings.
Four Israeli settlers were injured in the attack on June 29 near the illegal settlement of Shvut Rachel south of Nablus, with one of them, Moshe Malachi Rosenfeld, later succumbing to his wounds.
The statement also accused the men of carrying out a failed attack on Israeli vehicles in northern Ramallah on June 27 that left none injured, as well as plotting an attack on June 6 that was never carried out.
The Israeli army said the arrests were carried out in a joint operation with Israeli police and Shin Bet intelligence, but added that two of the men — Hamad and 29-year-old Ahmed Sabri — were detained by Palestinian security forces.
It said that they both men remained in Palestinian custody.
The army said the attacks were overseen by Ahmed Najar, 39, a ‘Hamas operative’ who moved to Jordan after he was released from an Israeli prison as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011.
Najar is still in Jordan, although Israeli Channel News 10 reported that Israel has formally asked the Jordanian authorities to hand him over.
Among the others detained was Najar’s brother, 38-year-old Amjad Najar, who it claimed delivered orders to the ‘cell’ from his brother, ‘as well as funds and weapons.’
Ahmed Sabri reportedly also supplied the weapons used, while Faaz Hamad, 42, a ‘high ranking operative’ of Hamas ‘confessed to plotting the attacks and involvement in another terror attack,’ the statement said, without elaborating further.
The statement accused 62-year-old Jamal Jamil Yunis — the father-in-law of Amjad Najar — of arranging to demolish the car used in the attacks.
Israeli forces carried out multiple detention raids across the occupied West Bank following the shooting last month, while settlers carried out violent reprisals, including attacks on Palestinian vehicles.
Sunday’s announcement came shortly after the Israeli army said that it was holding another ‘cell’ of five Palestinians from Qalandiya refugee camp that included a man accused of carrying out a West Bank shooting on June 19 that left one Israeli dead and another injured.
The first weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan this year saw several attacks by Palestinians on Israeli military and civilians.
Since the beginning of 2014, an average of two Israelis have been injured every week, leaving three dead, all in the occupied West Bank, according to UN figures.
In the same period, however, an average of 35 Palestinians have been injured every week, with 15 killed in total.
Israeli settlers, including those living in occupied East Jerusalem, have carried out a further two weekly attacks on Palestinians, and an average of four incidents of damage to Palestinian property every week.
The Israeli army statement on Sunday gave no further information regarding when the detainees would be tried.
They will join thousands of Palestinians brought through the Israeli military court system each year.
An annual military courts report documented in 2011 that Israeli military courts in the West Bank have a 99.74 percent conviction rate for Palestinians brought before them, according to Israeli media.
Rights groups have also alleged that Palestinian detainees are often held arbitrarily and charged after forced confession under interrogation and use of false evidence.
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