|By YAAKOV LAPPIN|
|The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF arrested a terrorist cell from Nablus implicated in a gun and bomb attack on Israeli civilian vehicles in Samaria, security forces announced on Monday.
The attack took place on January 15 at Jit junction, near the settlement of Kedumim, and the arrests occurred later that month. Terrorists shot at an Israeli car and threw an explosive at another. The vehicle fired upon was damaged, but the driver escaped the attack without injuries.
“Our investigation found that in the months prior to the attack, the cell was involved in two failed shooting attacks in the area. The attacks failed despite the fact that the cell’s members gathered intelligence prior to the shooting, and trained in firearms,” the Shin Bet said.
During the security raids, the IDF and Shin Bet seized a firearm used in the attack, security forces added.
The domestic intelligence agency said five members of the terrorist cell are in Israeli custody, including two central suspects, Abd Naif Shahshir, 23, and Jihad Adel Shahshir, 25.
“Their arrest, days after the attack at Jit junction, prevented the continued consolidation of a military cell that carried out a number of attempts in recent months to harm Israeli civilians in the Samaria region,” the Shin Bet said.
Palestinian Authority security forces arrested additional members of the terrorist cell after the attack, and they remain in custody.
In a different case, security forces arrested a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist cell in recent weeks on suspicion of being behind a gun and grenade attack on an IDF post in the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday.
The attack occurred on February 25 near the Palestinian village of Bir Zeit, north of Ramallah.
The Shin Bet said a prominent terror suspect, Fadi Musa Washaha, 27, had confessed to carrying out the attack together with an accomplice, Muataz Washaha, 24, who acted as a lookout.
Muataz Washaha was killed on February 27 during an attempt by security forces to arrest him in Bir Zeit, following a lengthy standoff.
Security forces arrested Fadi Musa Washaha – who has served multiple prison sentences for terrorist offenses – in counterterrorism raids. He later surrendered a homemade rifle to the Shin Bet.
Prior to the attack on the IDF post, he said, he and his accomplice held training exercises with the rifle.
After firing on the post, both suspects fled to the village of Bir Zeit, where security forces caught up with them a few days later.
In the days after Muataz Washaha’s death, the PFLP’s regional commander held a “military funeral” for him, the Shin Bet said, adding that Ramallah Governor Leila Ghnaem took part, and that the Palestinian Authority condemned Israel for the counterterrorism raid.
“In this context, we would like to stress the high motivation terrorist organizations have to promote attacks on the ground on military targets, as well the threat level from the PFLP organization, whose members are working on attacks against Israeli targets,” the Shin Bet said.