Diplomacy & defense
The Israeli army and Security Agency's forces (Shin Bet) apprehended three weeks ago the commander of the cell that kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens in the West Bank two months ago, it was cleared for publication on Tuesday.
Hebron resident Hussam al-Qawasme, a relative of one of the suspects in the kidnapping, admitted in his interrogation that he was in charge of Marwan al-Qawasme, 29, and Amer abu Aisha, 33, Hamas activists from Hebron and the main suspects in the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel on June 12.
Hussam, who was captured in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat, revealed that he got the financing for the kidnapping from Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian security sources told Israeli news site Walla! that Hussam tried to escape to Jordan aided by his family and using fake documentation.
The sources also said that there is a direct connection between the cell that kidnapped the three teens and Hamas leadership in Gaza and outside of the Strip.
A group of former Palestinian prisoners, who were released in Shalit prisoner-swap deal, is operating in Gaza under the auspices of former Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad and Saleh Al-Aruri, a Hamas official currently based in Ankara.
The two Hamas leaders are responsible for the planning of dozens of terrorist plots in the West Bank, the sources added.
Marwan al-Qawasme and Amer abu Aisha are still at large.
On June 26 the Israeli army has cleared for publication Marwan and Amer, Hamas activists from Hebron, who previously served time in Israeli prisons, were the main suspects in the kidnapping of the teens.
Israeli forces have been conducting a manhunt for the two since the search for the teens began on June 13.
Abu Aisha's brother, Zaid, was a Hamas operative who was killed in 2005 during clashes with Israeli forces.
Al-Qawasme's uncle, Abdullah, was the commander of Hamas' military arm in Hebron. He was killed by Israeli forces in 2003.
Al-Qawasme was arrested when he was 18 and was sentences to ten months in jail in 2004. Since then he was rearrested four times. During his last interrogation in 2010 he admitted that he was recruited by Hamas in Hebron in 2009 and received training. He also learned how to build an explosive device and helped enlist other young men to Hamas. He remained in jail until March 2012.
Abu Aisha was first arrested in 2005, interrogated and held in administrative detention until June 2006. He was arrested again in April of 2007.