The identity of the terrorist who fatally shot Border Police Staff Sergeant Barel Hadaria Shmueli during violent clashes on the Gaza Strip border in July is a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's (PIJ) military wing, Ynet has learned through Palestinian sources on Thursday.
Hamas kept the suspect, who resides in Gaza City's Shejaiya neighborhood, in protective custody for weeks and imposed a sweeping gag order on his identity before being released for fear of Israeli retaliation.
Shmueli was gravely wounded on August 21 when the suspect, initially believed to be a Hamas militant, approached the border barrier in plainclothes and shot him in the head with a pistol from point-blank range through a gap in the wall.
Shmueli was rushed to Soroka Medical Center in critical condition where he had undergone several emergency surgeries but ultimately succumbed to his wounds nine days later.
He was laid to rest at Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv Monday night as thousands of mourners turned up to pay their respects to the fallen soldier. He was 21.
Ynet's sister publication Yedioth Ahronoth has recently learned that the gunman has been avoiding being seen in public since his release for fear of being assassinated by Israel.
Hamas' higher-ups believe that Israel will not make an attempt on the suspect's life and risk further escalation of violence as both sides are engaged in ceasefire talks through Egyptian mediation.
However, Hamas believes Israel has added the suspect to its blacklist of potential targets and he will go into hiding in case tensions in the Palestinian enclave boil over.