TEL AVIV (Oct. 20)
Police announced Sunday the arrests of three members of a “terrorist squad” responsible for the grenade attack on Israeli soldiers and their families in the Old City last Wednesday in which one man was killed and 69 soldiers and civilians were wounded.
The suspects were described as members of an extremist group known as the Islamic Jihad (Holy War), all in their ’20s. Further identification was withheld by court order. Two of them, residents of Silwan village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, were apprehended Thursday, within 24 hours of the attack. The third, who lives in the near by village of Abu Tor, was taken into custody Friday morning. They were arraigned in magistrates court Friday and remanded in custody for seven days.
Police sources said the investigation is continuing and other arrests are possible. According to a police statement, the suspects were recruited in Jordan in 1985 by agents of El. Fatah, the terrorist arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The sources said they had planned for nearly two years to carry out a major assault in Jerusalem.
The soldiers and their families, attacked following a swearing-in ceremony for Israel Defense Force recruits at the Western Wall, were a target of opportunity, security sources said.
It was believed earlier that the soldiers had been a premeditated target which would have indicated new and bolder terrorist tactics. Armed IDF personnel are usually avoided by terrorists who concentrate on civilian targets.
The police statement said the arrests were made by security forces in cooperation with the police and that “In the course of the investigation, weapons and combat materiel that were in the squad’s possession were handed over to the authorities.”