Middle East: Gunman who killed students previously arrested for Hezbollah ties

Rome, 7 March (AKI) - The Palestinian gunman from East Jerusalem who killed eight Israeli religious seminary students on Thursday, had been previously arrested in Israel for alleged ties with Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah.

Ala Abu Dhein was arrested four months ago by Israeli forces in an inquiry which lasted two months and was accused of having ties with Hezbollah, an unnamed local source in the village of Jabal al-Mukabir told Adnkronos International (AKI).

The sources say Abu Dhein was later released because of a lack of evidence against him. Also on Thursday, Israeli security forces arrested members of Abu Dhein's family and friends.

20-year-old Abu Dhein worked in the seminary as a bus driver and was a resident of Jerusalem and thus held a blue identity card allowing him to work and reside in Israel.

Initially, the Jerusalem attack against the seminary had been claimed by the Galilee Freedom Battalions - the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh, reported Hezbollah Television station al-Manar.

Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a bombing in Damascus on 13 February and Hezbollah, Syria and Iran blamed Israel for assassinating him. Hezbollah has vowed to avenge Mughniyeh's murder.

Mughniyeh was the intelligence chief of Hezbollah's shady military wing, the Islamic Resistance.

Meanwhile, Israel raised its terror alert and sealed off the West Bank until Sunday, while the number of checkpoints in Jerusalem has been increased.


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