Shin Bet Nabs Hamas Terror Cell

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JERUSALEM, Israel - The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) lifted a gag order on Monday to announce the arrest of Hamas members who murdered an Israeli policeman in June.

Staff Sgt. Major Yehoshua "Shuki" Sofer, 39, succumbed to his wounds hours after terrorists opened fire on his police car in the southern Hebron Hills near the Jewish community of Otniel. Two other policemen were wounded in the attack.

The officers were traveling to Jerusalem from Beersheva on Route 60.

Less than a week after the attack, the Shin Bet arrested several members of a Hamas terror cell in the Arab village of Deir Tsamet. Some of the detainees had served time in Israeli prisons.

During interrogation, the men said they had formed the cell a few years ago specifically to target Israeli vehicles in the southern Hebron Hills. They also planned to kidnap Israeli soldiers in the Gush Etzion area. They said they had scouted out the area and purchased kippot (Jewish skullcaps) and a wig to facilitate their plans.

During the June 14 attack, one member of the four-man cell served as a lookout, while the other three waited in their car by the side of the road to open fire as the vehicle drove.

After the ambush, the terrorists torched the car, hid their weapons - which included AK47 assault rifles - and fled the scene.

During questioning, one of the terror cell members said two weeks prior to the ambush, he had taken his six-year-old daughter to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital for eye surgery to remove a tumor. An Israeli foundation paid for the operation.

Sofer was engaged to be married in the fall. At the funeral, his fiancée, Einav Blum, poured out her heart.

"My heart is exploding…It cannot contain this much pain…I love you and I always will," she said.

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YNet new contributed to this report.

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