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Israel catches kidnapper behind murder of the three teens

by JTA

August 6, 2014 | 2:15 pm

<em>Still wanted for kidnapping, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha. Image courtesy IDF</em>

Still wanted for kidnapping, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha. Image courtesy IDF

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 on the evening of Aug. 5, 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 Frenkel 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 Amer 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.

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

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