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Alleged leader of cell that killed three Israeli teens arrested

JTA

August 5, 2014 | 12:21 pm

<em>An Israeli woman holds a sign with images of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in Tel Aviv on June 29. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters</em>

An Israeli woman holds a sign with images of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers in Tel Aviv on June 29. Photo by Baz Ratner/Reuters

The West Bank man believed to be the leader of the cell that kidnapped and killed three Jewish teens was arrested.

A gag order on reporting the arrest more than three weeks ago of Hussam Kawasme was lifted Tuesday evening, according to Israeli media.

Kawasme, of Hebron, was apprehended while attempting to flee with the help of his family to Jordan under a false identity, Ynet reported.

He reportedly admitted to serving as the leader of the cell that perpetrated the murders of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach. Kawasme said that funding for the attack, which he used to buy weapons, came from Hamas in Gaza.

In his interrogation, Kawasme said he helped to bury the bodies on a plot of land he had purchased two months prior to the murders. He then helped the two men who drove the car and shot the teens to hide.

Security forces are still searching for the two men — Kawasme’s brother, Marwan, and Omar Abu Aysha. Marwan Kawasme, who is active in Hamas, was freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange and deported to Gaza, The Times of Israel reported.

Another suspected cell member, Hussan Dofesh, also was arrested a month ago in Hebron.

The bodies of the three teens were discovered following a massive search on June 30 in a shallow grave in a field near Hebron, 18 days after they were kidnapped and murdered.

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