(October 3, 2019 / JNS) Israeli forces on Thursday arrested a senior member of the terrorist group suspected of being responsible for the August bombing in Samaria that killed 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb and seriously injured her father and brother, according to Palestinian media reports.
Walid Muhammad Hanatsheh was arrested and his home in At-Tira, near Ramallah, searched early on Thursday morning, according to the reports.
Though Israel’s Shin Bet security agency refused to comment on Hanatsheh’s arrest, it said that 13 Palestinian suspects were arrested in overnight raids around Ramallah, but did not provide further details.
“The investigation into the [terrorist] cell is ongoing. We are not providing information about any arrests at this time,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
During the arrests, riots broke out with Palestinian residents throwing rocks and firebombs at Israel Defense Forces jeeps.
The current wave of arrests comes in the wake of the arrest last Wednesday of several other members of the PFLP suspected of involvement in the August terrorist attack, including suspected ringleader, Samer Arbid, 44, who according to the Shin Bet organized the cell behind the attack and personally detonated the explosive device that killed Shnerb.
Following his interrogation on Saturday, Arbid was admitted to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital in critical condition, where he is, according to his lawyer Mahmoud Hassan, currently breathing with the aid of a ventilator, with broken ribs and having suffered kidney failure.
The Joint Arab List called on Monday for an official investigation into the incident, and the Justice Ministry has begun one.
Upon the denial of a request that he be released due to his injuries, an Israeli judge allowed for greater visitation rights by his family while he recovers, but said the Shin Bet would likely be able to resume interrogating him “in the coming days.”
Israeli security forces had previously arrested Arbid earlier in September on suspicion of planning the Dolev attack, but released him due to lack of evidence. He was taken back into custody last week, and the Shin Bet requested and was granted permission to employ “extraordinary measures” in his interrogation. Such measures are typically authorized in “ticking time-bomb” scenarios in which law enforcement believes there is risk of an imminent attack.
According to Israeli research institute NGO Monitor, Arbid has been arrested and placed in administrative detention on numerous occasions, including in 2003, 2007-08, 2013 and most recently in March 2016. According to NGO Monitor, Arbid has worked for NGOs with ties to the PFLP, including Addameer and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, both of which are directly funded by various European governments.
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