Hamas group that 'blew up Brit' is caught

By Anshel Pfeffer, September 8, 2011
Police search for clues after the fatal bombing in Jerusalem in March

Police search for clues after the fatal bombing in Jerusalem in March

The Hamas terror cell that allegedly murdered British tourist Mary-Jane Gardner in a bomb attack on the Jerusalem central bus station in March has been captured.

Members of the cell,which was operating on orders from Hamas's headquarters in Damascus, were arrested in Jerusalem and the West Bank last month while planning another bomb attack in the city, according to Israel's internal security agency, the Shin Bet.

Mary Jane Gardner, a 56-year-old evangelical Christian who was studying Hebrew in order to work on a translation of the Bible, was killed on March 23 when a bomb went off on a platform of the Jerusalem main bus station. Forty-seven people were also wounded.

On Wednesday, the Shin Bet released information regarding the arrests of dozens of alleged Hamas members, who belonged to 13 different cells operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The cell alleged to have carried out the bombing was based in Hebron, where one of its leaders, H'sein Kawasme, a veteran member of Hamas's military wing, is said to have assembled the bomb in his home.

In early August, Kawasme built two more similar bombs, one of which was allegedly smuggled into Jerusalem by Ezhak Arfa, a 23-year-old resident of east Jerusalem who possessed an Israeli identity card and who worked at a Jewish-owned banqueting hall in west Jerusalem. The Shin Bet believe that it was Arfa who laid the bomb in the bus station in Jerusalem in March.

In mid-August the courier to the cell was arrested at the Allenby Bridge crossing before he returned to Syria, via Jordan. His arrest led to further arrests including that of Kawasme in Hebron and Arfa at his home in Jerusalem, along with the bomb, 24 hours before the attack was to be carried out. Two days later, the police arrested 20-year-old Said Kawasme, who is alleged to have been the intended suicide bomber.

Other cells whose members were arrested in recent months by the Shin Bet and IDF are alleged to have been planning a kidnap of an IDF solider, and hiding him in Hebron or smuggling him over the Egyptian border, through Sinai and into Gaza.

Last updated: 12:31pm, September 8 2011