Israel arrests Palestinian suspects in killing of West Bank settler guard
Israeli forces have arrested two Palestinians suspected of killing an Israeli security guard, the military said, and raided their hometown in the occupied West Bank overnight, detaining an additional 12 people.
Yussef Assi and Yahya Maari were arrested on Saturday at one of the suspects' homes in the Qarawat Bani Hassan village and two weapons believed to have been used in Friday's attack that killed the Israeli guard outside the Ariel settlement in the West Bank were confiscated, security sources said.
"After intense intelligence and operational activity by the [domestic security agency] Shin Bet, police special forces and the army, two suspects were arrested this evening," police said after a day-long manhunt.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade claimed responsibility for the shooting, which, later that night, was followed by the killing of a Palestinian, Yahya Adwan, during a raid in Azzun town in the West Bank.
An army spokesman told AFP the operation was linked to the hunt for the Ariel attackers.
"We claim responsibility for the heroic operation in the colony of Ariel in which a Zionist officer was killed, in response to violations committed by the occupation government in Jerusalem," al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade said.
The army said it stepped up its presence in the West Bank, with security forces making arrests and seizing weapons in Bruqin, west of Ariel, and in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus.
Haaretz reported that the Israel army has "mapped" the homes of the two suspects for likely demolition. One Palestinian suspected of aiding the suspects was detained "as part of the mapping operation," the army said.
Israeli forces also raided several other villages in the area and confiscated weapons, according to the Israeli newspaper.
The 29 April attack on the security guard came nearly a month after 14 Israelis were killed in a series of shooting and stabbing attacks carried out by Palestinians from the West Bank and inside Israel.
Israeli troops and police have been on high alert since, deploying additional army battalions to the West Bank and stepping up their operations in the occupied Palestinian territory.
At least 20 Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli forces in April, bringing the total number of Palestinians in the West Bank killed by Israeli forces this year to over 50.
On Saturday, confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers broke out after Adwan's funeral, with the Red Crescent saying three Palestinians were shot in the legs with live fire.
Israeli forces have carried out daily raids on al-Aqsa Mosque complex since the beginning of Ramadan at the start of April. At least 42 Palestinians were wounded on Friday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Israeli army spokesman Ran Kochave on Sunday said the attacks against Israelis have not been directed by Hamas or any other Palestinian groups, which, he added, "creates challenges" for Israel.
Hamas warned on Saturday of attacks on synagogues and a "great battle" if Israeli forces carry out another raid on al-Aqsa Mosque.
"Whoever takes the decision to repeat this scene [of a deployment inside the mosque] will be taking the decision to destroy thousands of synagogues across the world," said Yahya Sinwar, Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip.