Newly released information

 Terrorist cell behind murder of policeman arrested


Israeli police officers carry flag-draped coffin of their comrade Yehoshua Sofer during his funeral in Beersheba (Photo: Reuters)

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

On 22 June 2010, the IDF, ISA and Israel Police, arrested the Hamas terrorist cell responsible for the killing of policeman Yehoshua (Shuki) Sofer during a shooting attack on 14 June 2010, on Route 60 near the Israeli community of Otniel. Two other policemen were injured in the incident.

The operatives, all in their twenties, some of whom had been held by Israeli security forces in the past for their involvement with the Hamas terrorist organization, were arrested in the village of Deir Samet, near Israel’s Lachish region. After questioning the operatives, the ISA determined that they formed the Hamas terror cell a few years ago in order to execute terror attacks. For this purpose, the operatives accumulated munitions, including three AK47 assault rifles, in a stockpile hidden in a hilly area.

The Hamas cell began its combat operations in 2009, when its members received shooting training. In the first months of 2010, the cell decided to attack an Israeli target on Route 60. In preparation, the operatives located a convenient ambush site along the road, and agreed on attacking a police car that drove through the road every morning.

In the early morning of 14 June 2010, three of the operatives deployed at the ambush site, while another operative drove nearby and acted as a look-out in the case IDF forces arrived. The police car passed by the ambush site, near Deir Razakh, north of Otniel at 07:15. The operatives shot bursts of gunfire at the vehicle, killing the policeman and injuring two others. The operatives escaped the scene and later burned the escape vehicle and hid the munitions. An additional operative, who was aware of their plans, assisted in hiding the weapons after the attack.

The operatives reenacted the attack during their investigation, and handed over the three AK47 assault rifles to security forces.

It should be noted that one of the members of the terror cell admitted during questioning that two weeks prior to the attack, he had accompanied his 6 year old daughter to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where she had a tumor removed from her eye. The operation had been paid for in full by an Israeli charity foundation.

It also appears from the investigation that the cell had planned additional attacks, most notably to abduct a soldier or civilian in the Gush Etzion area. The operatives had already begun scouting the area, and had purchased skull caps and a wig that they planned to use in the attack.

The investigation is ongoing.