IDF nabs Park Hotel attack terrorist

Man is head of Hamas armed wing in Tulkarm; PA officer who confessed to terror attacks also arrested.

Bethlehem arrest 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Bethlehem arrest 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A senior Hamas terrorist, involved in planning the 2002 suicide bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya, was arrested overnight Monday in the West Bank, security officials announced Tuesday. Muhammad Harwish, head of Hamas's armed wing in Tulkarm, was apprehended along with his personal aide, Adnan Samara. The two were being interrogated by security forces. A Ya special forces unit, along with personnel from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and special Border Police forces, arrested the pair after encountering them during a search for weapons in Tzurif, close to Bethlehem. Harwish replaced Omar Jabar as the head of Hamas in Tulkarm in 2008 when Jabar was arrested. Prior to his arrest, Harwish was the most wanted terrorist in Tulkarm, and was involved in terrorist attacks, setting up terror cells and purchasing weapons to fight IDF and Palestinian Authority police forces. The Border Police's elite YAMAM Counter-Terror squad swept into a village in the southern Hebron Hills early Tuesday morning and arrested Muhammad Harwish, a senior Hamas terrorist and one of the planners of the 2002 Park Hotel Passover suicide bombing. Harwish, head of Hamas's military wing in Tulkarm, was apprehended along with his personal aide, Adnan Samara. The two were transferred to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for questioning. Acting on precise intelligence, a force comprised of YAMAM officers and soldiers from the IDF's elite undercover unit Duvdevan surrounded a home in the village of Zurif and captured the two wanted men. Harwish had been wanted by Israel since the beginning of the Second Intifada, in 2000. In 2002, he was involved in dispatching a suicide bomber to the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 people were killed. In March 2004, Harouish was wounded by IDF gunfire and was treated in a hospital in Ramallah. After his discharge from hospital he continued anti-Israeli terror activity and was involved in the planning of a suicide attack against Israel that was thwarted. He was later arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces and jailed in Jericho. In 2006, he was released from prison and returned to Tulkarm where he later became head of the Hamas military wing in the city. Samara, captured alongside Harouish, had been released one year ago from an Israeli prison, where he was held for his involvement in establishing terror cells with Harouish in Tulkarm. Security officials also announced Tuesday that in July and August, the Shin Bet and IDF arrested five Fatah-Tanzim operatives in the village of Silwad near Ramallah, including an active member of PA security forces and a Palestinian who lived in the US. The group were involved in a number of shooting attacks near Route 60, which passes near the village, the army said. The group was involved in a number of shooting attacks near Route 60, which passes near the village, said the army. Tanzim is the armed faction of Fatah, the ruling party in the PA government. At 6 a.m. on July 9, a number of shots were fired at an Israeli car driving toward the Jewish settlement of Psagot. That night, IDF troops arrested two residents of Silwad, Maharan Iad and Salah Hamad, who had been in Israeli prisons in the past for terrorist activity. During interrogation by the Shin Bet, the two confessed to planning the shooting attack, together with associate Mustafa Hamad, another Fatah member who was arrested later, security officials said. Iad, who was in Israeli prisons twice before and lived in the US from 2006 until May 2009, confessed to planning the attack together with the other two over several days, during which they searched for a vantage point to shoot from, said the officials. Rami Hamad, the last of the five to be arrested, was allegedly serving as a member of PA security forces as well as the Tanzim terror group at the time of his arrest. Hamad confessed to involvement in four separate shooting attacks.