Israeli security forces recently arrested a man thought to be the ringleader of the terror cell responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in mid-June, security officials said.
The news of the arrest came as nearly two months of tensions and conflict between Israel and the Palestinians gave way to a shaky calm for the first time since the three teenagers – Naftali Fraenkel,16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were abducted from a West Bank hitching post on June 12 and murdered shortly thereafter.
Hussam Kawasme, a native of Chevron, was arrested in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. Officials did not say when he was arrested.
Kawasme is thought to be the man called by the two kidnappers, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, after the abduction and murder, part of which was captured on an emergency call placed by one of the teens.
The kidnapping sparked a massive search operation and crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, with hundreds of members being arrested. Tensions further ratcheted up after the teens’ bodies were found outside Chevron at the end of June, and an East Jerusalem teen was kidnapped and killed by a Jewish Israeli, sparking days of unrest throughout the country in the West Bank and heavy rocket fire on Israel.
Read more: The Times of Israel