Israeli agents have arrested the mastermind of the two latest suicide bombings in Israel and 29 accomplices, the head of Israel's secret police said Wednesday.
Authorities also raided a bombmaking factory in the West Bank, seizing explosives and chemicals used to make them, the head of the Shin Bet security police told a news conference. Taken together, he said, the moves dealt a severe blow to the military wing of the militant group Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for the most recent attacks.Four people, including an American teacher, were killed when a bomb blew up on a bus in Jerusalem on Monday. A July 24 attack on a Tel Aviv bus killed six people.
Two of the people arrested in conjunction with the attacks were trained by the man who tops Israel's most-wanted list, Yehiyeh Ayyash, known as "The Engineer," according to the agency chief, who cannot be identified under Israeli law.
Ayyash is believed to have orchestrated at least six suicide bombings, including Monday's attack, that have killed 76 people since April 1994.
The key suspect is 27-year-old Abdel Nasr Issa, a university student from the Balata refugee camp who spent several weeks in the Gaza Strip, where he was trained by Ayyash, said the agency chief.
Issa was arrested Saturday, two days before the bombing in Jerusalem, but investigators from the Shin Bet secret service got permission to use tough interrogation measures only after the blast, he said.