Israeli security forces arrested a Bethlehem-based Hamas terror cell that carried out a suicide bombing attack on a bus in Jerusalem in April and had plans to carry out further suicide attacks, the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Agency) cleared for publication on Sunday.
A Hamas terrorist blew himself up on a packed bus on April 18, wounding 20 Israeli victims, including several severely. The bomber, Abed Al-Hamid Abu Srur, died of his wounds in an Israeli hospital two days after the attack.
The six-member terror cell, which had prepared the explosives for the April attack, had plans to carry out further such attacks and shooting attacks. Two of the cell members were involved in a shooting attack in 2015, which ended with no casualties.
Several of the cell members had already served time in Israeli prisons for previous terror-related offenses. All cell members were arrested in recent weeks.
The Hamas cell members included Mohammed Sami Abed Al-Hamid Al-Azza, 28, a resident of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem. He served time in an Israeli prison between 2004-2007 for involvement in Hamas terrorist attacks.
He revealed during his questioning that he manufactured the explosives and learned to do so by watching instructional videos online. He collected the required materials with his cell members. He helped plan and prepare April’s attack, and also worked to gather other weapons for future attacks.
Al-Hamid also admitted his involvement in an October 2015 shooting attack, together with cell member Mohammed Issa Mahmoud Albarabari.
The pair set out in a rental car along a road near the nearby Israeli town of Tekoa in Gush Etzion, and fired makeshift guns at an Israeli car. No one was wounded in the attack.
Mohammed Majdi Mustafa Al-Azza, a 21-year old resident of Beit Jalah near Bethlehem, helped prepare the bomb used in the April attack. He also helped recruit other members to the terror cell, including April’s bomber. He expressed willingness to serve as a suicide bomber and prepared to carry out another attack following April’s attack.
Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud Masaih, 19, a resident of Aidah refugee camp in Bethlehem, drove the suicide bomber to the scene of April’s attack.
Ali Ahmed Mohammed Arouj, 30, a resident of Bied Faluh , served time in an Israeli prison between 2004-2007 for his membership in a terror cell which planned a bombing attack. He helped prepare the bomb materials for April’s attack, filmed the suicide bomber’s “will” and helped finance the cell’s activities.
Saeed Asame Issa Harmas, 30, a resident of Bethlehem, also spent time in an Israeli prison for his role in significant terror activities for Hamas. He also helped plan April’s attack, helped write the bomber’s will and filmed it on video. During his questioning he revealed the location of makeshift weapons hidden in his home, which were used in the 2015 shooting.
The cell members will be indicted by the IDF Military Prosecution in the coming days.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
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