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Israeli forces detain alleged 'Hamas cell' behind Jerusalem bus explosion

May 29, 2016 1:08 P.M. (Updated: May 30, 2016 9:57 A.M.)
An explosion on a Jerusalem bus on April 18, 2015, later claimed by the Hamas movement, killed one Palestinian and injured 20 Israelis (MaanImages, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli army announced on Sunday that Israel’s internal security service agency had apprehended six Palestinians belonging to a “Hamas terror cell” allegedly behind a Jerusalem bus explosion in April.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the Shin Bet agency had detained Palestinians in the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem in past weeks, over their alleged involvement in a group which planned an explosion on a bus in southern Jerusalem on April 18, which led to the death of one Palestinian and injured 19 Israelis.

The Hamas movement claimed responsibility for the explosion, saying that Aida refugee camp resident Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, 19, who died after sustaining serious burns during the explosion, had been one of its operatives.

In a statement released on Sunday, Shin Bet reported the names of the six Palestinians allegedly involved in the Hamas cell. Palestinian sources confirmed the identities of the detained as Muhammad Issa Mahmoud al-Barbari from the Azza refugee camp -- who was detained on May 1 -- Muhammad Sami Abd al-Hamid al-Azza from Beit Sahour, Muhammad Majdi Mustafa al-Azza from Beit Jala, Ahmad Muhammad Mahmoud al-Sheikh from the Aida refugee camp, Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Urouj from the village of Bad Falouh, and Said Usama Issa Hirmas from the city of Bethlehem.

The Shin Bet statement added that the Palestinians were detained over suspicions that they manufactured explosives, including the one used in the bus attack, and planned a number of other attacks against Israeli targets. Two of the detained reportedly confessed to being involved in a shooting attack in October which caused no injuries.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers since a wave of unrest spread across the occupied Palestinian territory in October. The unrest has been marked by a surge of small-scale attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals -- predominantly on Israeli military targets -- which have left nearly 30 Israelis dead, with the majority of suspected Palestinian attackers shot dead on site.
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