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Israeli security officials have arrested five Arab residents of east Jerusalem in connection with a spring shooting attack on security personnel on the outskirts of the city, police announced Monday.
The suspects were apprehended earlier this month following a three-month long joint police-Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) investigation into a May shooting attack at an Israeli security post on the southeastern rim of the city in which two Israeli security personnel were injured, including one seriously.
The two Jerusalem Arab attackers, both carrying the blue Israeli ID cards issued to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, were shot dead following the night-time ambush during a routine patrol in the Arab village of Sheikh Said, adjacent to the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv.
One of the men arrested in the case, Ma'anan Mohamed Halela, 21, is suspected of providing the assailants the weapons they used in the attack.
The two gunmen who were killed in the shootout were Hamas activists, police said in a press release Monday after a court gag order on the case was lifted.
Police had previously identified the two men with an offshoot of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's mainstream Fatah Movement.
The five suspects arrested in the case, all men in their 20's from the same east Jerusalem village, have confessed to illicit trade in weapons with both criminals and Hamas terror suspects, the police statement said.
During the investigation, it emerged that one of the attackers involved in the shooting was active in a local Hamas group which studied Islamic religious law in keeping with the theology of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Such groups are often used as a first stage in the enlistment of Hamas activists, the police said.
Israeli security officials noted that most of the Hamas activists who have been apprehended in Jerusalem in connection with terrorists activities - including the bombers of the Hebrew University cafeteria five years ago and the city's Cafe Hillel - began their connection with Hamas in such religious study groups.