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Israel says three Palestinian suspects arrested over deadly blast

Bomb exploded in August near illegal Jewish settlement of Dolev in occupied West Bank, killing teen, wounding father and brother
Israeli ambulance and security forces gather near site where bomb exploded outside Israeli settlement in occupied West Bank on 23 August (AFP/file photo)

Israeli security forces on Saturday said three Palestinian suspects had been arrested in the murder of an Israeli teenager in a bombing in the occupied West Bank in August.

Statements by domestic security agency Shin Bet and the police alleged the three were active members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated a "terrorist group" by Israel, the US and the European Union, AFP reported.

The bomb exploded on 23 August near a spring that serves as a swimming pool near the illegal Jewish settlement of Dolev, northeast of Ramallah, killing 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb and wounding her father and brother.

"In a joint operation between Shin Bet, the army and the Israeli police, the perpetrators of the... attack have been found and arrested," the domestic security agency and police said in near-identical statements on Saturday.

Israeli teen killed by blast near West Bank settlement
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The statements identified the Palestinian suspects as "residents of the Ramallah area active within the" PFLP.

The mastermind behind the attack was alleged to be 44-year-old Samar Arvid from Ramallah, who is considered one of PFLP’s senior officials in the West Bank, Israel's Ynet news website reported.

According to the military, Arvid built the bomb and detonated it when he noticed the Shnerb family approaching the area. He had been arrested in the past, primarily during the Second Intifada of 2002-2005, Ynet added.

The PFLP carried out several plane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s but has lost traction in recent years in the Palestinian territories. Shin Bet added that the "cell was preparing other attacks when the arrests occurred, notably gun attacks and kidnappings".

The police said that the arrests of the three had taken place "several weeks ago", without giving specific dates.

Security forces had said the day after the bomb attack that several suspects had been arrested and transferred for further questioning.

No Palestinian group has taken responsibility for the blast.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 26 August ordered hundreds of new settler homes to be built near the site of the bomb attack.

Palestinians sporadically attack Israelis in the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967, but bomb attacks have been rare. Palestinian attacks have mostly involved guns, knives and car rammings.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built in the West Bank since Israel occupied the territory in the 1967 Middle East war. Israeli settlements in the West Bank, where about 2.5 million Palestinians live, are illegal under international law.