IDF forces arrested members of a Hamas cell responsible for a series of terror attacks in June, including one that claimed the life of Malachi Rosenfeld.

Israeli security forces arrested members of a Hamas terror cell who carried out a lethal terror attack in June in which a young Israeli civilian was murdered and three others wounded.

Malachi Rosenfeld, a 25-year-old resident of Kochav Hashahar in the Jerusalem District, was shot and killed by one of the cell members as he and his friends were returning from a basketball game. The shooter was not yet apprehended by Israeli security forces, but he was recently arrested by the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of its crackdown on Hamas.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), together with the IDF and Israel Police, said in a statement Sunday that members of the cell also carried out a shooting attack on an Israeli ambulance and other Israeli vehicles near Beitin in the PA territories two days prior to the murder on June 29. There were no injuries in that attack.

During questioning, the terrorists confessed to the shootings as well as to an additional attack earlier in June.

Security forces said that the cell was directed by Ahmed Najar, a Hamas terrorist and former prisoner who served time for shooting attacks that murdered Israelis.

Najar, who served eight years in an Israeli jail for his involvement in the murder of six Israelis, was released as part of the 2011 Shalit prisoner swap with Hamas. He was deported to the Gaza Strip, and from there he moved to Jordan, where he worked systematically to organize terror attacks.

The Shin Bet pointed out that some of the cell members, whose names were exposed during the investigation, are being held by the PA security forces. Ma’ad Hamed, who carried out the two shootings in June and led the cell, and Ahamad Shabrawy, who helped plan the attacks and harbored the weapons used to carry them out, are two of the cell members in PA custody.

The Shin Bet named a total of seven members of the Hamas terror cell who were involved in the various phases of the planning, execution and concealing of the terror attack. Four are in Israeli custody, and two are under arrest by PA forces.

Released Terrorists Return to Terror

These latest arrests have reignited the debate surrounding the release of Israelis held captive by terror organizations in exchange for the release of terrorists held in Israeli prisons.

In 2011, when IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for some 1,100 terrorists, Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen said Israel could contend with the threat posed by the released terrorists.

Shin Bet Head Yoram Cohen

Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen. (Flash90)

However, six Israelis have since been murdered by terrorists released in the Shalit deal.

One of the most memorable attacks was the murder of Police commander Baruch Mizrahi, 47, a father of five who was shot on April 14, 2014, while traveling with his family to celebrate Passover. His wife was wounded in the attack. The terrorist who murdered him was subsequently arrested on May 7 by the Israel Police’s elite counter-terrorism unit. In October 2011 he was released from prison as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal after having been sentenced to life in prison for murdering Arabs suspected of collaborating with Israel.

One of the terrorists involved in the murder of Danny Gonen last month was arrested last week. He, too, was released during the Shalit deal. In total, 39 of the released terrorists have been re-arrested and sent back to prison for terror activity. Several others have been arrested and await sentencing.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel