Israeli security forces have arrested some 45 members of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement.
Those arrested were suspected of planning to detonate a car bomb in Jerusalem, kidnap Israeli soldiers, shoot at army roadblocks and hijack an Israeli bus, according to an Israel Defense Force statement issued Monday.
The group was led by Mohammed Daya, a leader of the military wing of Hamas from the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio said.
He was said to be responsible for planning last October’s kidnapping of Cpl. Nachshon Waxman, who was later killed during a shootout between his kidnappers and an elite Israeli commando unit attempting to rescue him.
Most of those arrested were from villages surrounding Jerusalem, Israel Television said.
The arrests, which were carried out over several days, came after a shootout last Friday in the West Bank town of Hebron in which Israeli soldiers killed a Hamas terrorist who was on Israel’s most-wanted list.
Israel Radio reported that the terrorist, who was later identified as Hamed Yamour, was found by Israeli security officials in a suspected hideout of Muslim militants.
A gun battle ensued when Yamour refused an order to surrender. Israeli troops ended the siege by firing anti-tank missiles at the house.
Yamour’s body was later found in the demolished building.
The head of the IDF’s central command, Maj. Gen Ilan Biran, told Israel Radio that Yamour was one of the most wanted members of Hamas. He added that Yamour had been involved in a number of terror attacks against Israelis.
A curfew was imposed in Hebron and in nearby Halhoul last Friday as Israeli security forces conducted searches for others suspected terrorists.
Meanwhile, Jordan has expelled two senior Hamas activists.
The expulsion was in accordance with a Palestine Liberation Organization request, media reports said.
The two men were identified as Mussa Abu Marzuk, an important leader in Hamas’ international leadership, and Im’ad al-Almi, who is Hamas’ ambassador in Tehran, Iran.