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Israeli army says they arrested 'terror cell' responsible for West Bank shootings

Dec. 7, 2016 5:42 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 7, 2016 5:42 P.M.)
Israeli security forces tend to an injured soldier, next to the body of a Palestinian man, outside Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, Oct. 16, 2015. Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The Israeli army said in a statement on Tuesday that they had arrested a “terror cell” based in the Ramallah-area village of Silwad that was “responsible for shooting attacks in Ofra” -- an illegal Israeli settlement located just south of Silwad.

The statement was released on social media after an Israeli authorities-issued gag order on the case was lifted.

Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported that the “terrorist cell,” which they said was comprised of three Palestinian minors, carried out four shooting attacks near Ofra in October and November 2016.

The report added that the three had carried out the attacks using weapons they had manufactured themselves.

The details of the shooting attacks allegedly committed by the three unidentified Palestinians remained unclear, and an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into details of the case.

Ma’an reported on two incidents near the Ofra settlement in October and November: one alleged attempted car ramming and stabbing when the suspect was shot, injured, and detained, and one alleged attempted stabbing which the suspect was shot dead on the scene.

A Palestinian policeman was also killed by Israeli forces in October after he committed a shooting attack at a checkpoint near the Ramallah-area illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El, just west of Ofra.

Israeli security forces meanwhile claimed to have uncovered a “terrorist cell,” in the Jerusalem area in November, on suspicion of being responsible for “numerous bombing attacks targeting Israeli security forces,” as well as “preparing for future attacks.”

Since a wave of violence spread across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, Israeli forces have carried out mass detentions campaigns targeting suspected attackers as well as their family members.

The violence has been largely characterized by alleged, attempted, and actual small-scale attacks committed by Palestinians against uniformed Israeli soldiers or police, mainly using knives or similar weapons, and in some cases shootings.

Israel’s response to attacks and alleged attacks -- both large and small -- such as punitive home demolitions, the sealing of entire villages, mass detention campaigns, and withholding the bodies of Palestinians slain while committing attacks, has been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law.

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