Israeli security forces arrested the terrorist who killed Israeli hiker Danny Gonen near the settlement Dolev in the West Bank, along with four other suspects, it was cleared for publication on Wednesday.
The shooter was identified as Muhammed Abu Shaheen, 30 years old from Qalandiya, is a member of the Palestinian Authority's elite Force 17 unit. He was imprisoned between 2006-2008 after confessing his intention to carry out a terror attack.
During questioning, Abu Shaheen confessed to the shooting and said he had collected intelligence before committing the attack. He also admitted to six other shooting attacks in the last year, including one in November 2014 in Al-Ram, in which a soldier was wounded.
The five were arrested about a week and a half after the attack, when troops raided the suspects' homes.
According to investigators, there was no connection between the arrested cell members and the cell that committed the terror attack near Shvut Rachel, in which Israeli Malachi Rosenfeld was killed, or the shooting at an ambulance near Beit El. However, the Shin Bet reportedly made new discoveries about those attacks over the last few days.
Aharon Gonen, Danny's uncle, said he had spoken to the victim's mother and that the arrests had brought back very difficult emotions. "She is still upset," he said. "Every development or event causes a flood of emotions and brings up all the thoughts and longing again. We never for a moment doubted that security forces would get their hands on the terrorists, and we also knew it could take days, weeks, or month."
Gonen said the family was told earlier in the week that progress has been made in the case and that Palestinian suspects have been arrested.
The attack took place on June 19, when Gonen and a friend were driving away from a spring near the Dolev settlement in the Binyamin area of the West Bank. A Palestinian man signaled for them to stop as if to ask for help before firing at them from point-blank range, critically wounding Gonen.
The case reached a turning point when the Judea and Samaria District emergency center received a call from the attacker, saying he committed a terror attack and shot Israelis. The Shin Bet then traced the call, leading them to Qalandiya. One of the arrestees was Amjad Aduan, 35, who was previously detained for planning terror attacks. He is suspected of supplying Abu Shaheen with ammunition and served as a lookout at several shooting attacks.
The other suspects who were arrested are Asraf Amar, a 24-year-old member of PA military Intelligence, Fatah member Osama Assad, 29, who was released in the Shalit deal and is suspected of hiding the gun that Abu Shaheen used for the attack in his home; and Muhammed Aduan, 37, who has no history of security offenses, who is also suspected of hiding weapons for Abu Shaheen.
The terror cell belongs to the Tanzim militia founded by Fatah, which has been working to rebuild its infrastructure in the West Bank over the past year. These are young terror operatives, who do not answer to Fatah or the Palestinian Authority.