Jerusalem: Israeli security officials announced today the arrest of six young Israeli settlers from what it called a "Jewish terror" group suspected of carrying out attacks against Palestinians and their property last year, in what officials said was a victory in its campaign to reduce extremist Israeli attacks against Palestinians.
Also today, an Israeli hospital spokeswoman said a man who was critically wounded in a Jerusalem bus bombing this week has died. Later in the day, Gaza's militant Hamas group said the attacker behind the bus bombing was a Hamas member, but stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack.
The Shin Bet security agency said the six arrested suspects two minors, a 19-year-old soldier and three others in their early 20s based in the West Bank settlement of Nahliel acted with intent to harm and kill Palestinians.
They were arrested this month and will soon be charged in court, Shin Bet said. It said members of the group were responsible for attacking a Palestinian farmer with rods and tear gas, injuring him.
It also accused group members of throwing firebombs into a Palestinian home in November while family members slept, and lobbing Israeli army gas canisters into another home in December while a Palestinian couple and baby slept.
None were injured in the home attacks, the Shin Bet said. The settlers scrawled graffiti on the homes calling for revenge. The suspects told interrogators, according to Shin Bet, that their actions were inspired by a deadly Israeli arson attack on a West Bank home last July that killed a Palestinian couple and their toddler.
Group members were connected to members of another ring of Jewish extremists recently apprehended and accused of a series of attacks on Palestinian and Christian targets, Shin Bet said.
While Israel has been dealing with a wave of vigilante-style attacks by suspected Jewish extremists in recent years, the deadly 2015 firebombing sparked soul-searching across the nation.
The attack was condemned across the Israeli political spectrum, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged "zero tolerance" in the fight to bring the assailants to justice.