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Israel arrests suspects in Tel Aviv bus bombing

Uriel Sinai / Getty Images file

An Israeli policeman stands above shoes and clothes from a victim at the scene of an explosion on a bus in central Tel Aviv, Israel, Nov. 21.

Israeli authorities arrested an Israeli Arab on suspicion of planting a bomb in a Tel Aviv bus that wounded 15 people hours before Israel agreed a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza, police and security officials said on Thursday.

The Arab citizen of Israel was detained on Wednesday night, they said. Also arrested, police said, were a number of Palestinians affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on suspicion of having recruited the Israeli Arab to carry out the bombing.


Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld did not give names or an exact number of how many people were in custody.

He said the Israeli Arab notified his Palestinian handlers in the West Bank when the bomb was in place on the commuter bus, and they then detonated the device with a mobile phone.

"The investigation is still under way, and other arrests are expected," the Shin Bet internal security service said in a statement. 

Wednesday's bus bombing had raised the possibility that Palestinians had slipped in from the nearby West Bank to carry out the attack.

Some residents of Israel close to Gaza say deals brokered with Hamas in the past have fallen through, and they worry this one will, too. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.

While Hamas rules Gaza, a fenced-off enclave under Israeli blockade, the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority governs in parts of the West Bank not under Israeli occupation. But many of its residents are sympathetic with his Islamist Hamas rivals who govern Gaza and reject permanent peace with the Jewish state.

After cease-fire, both sides claim victory

Earlier on Thursday, the Israeli army said that 55 suspected Palestinian militants had been arrested in the West Bank, citing a need to maintain calm after a truce ended the Gaza fighting.

The detainees were from various armed Palestinian factions and included "senior operatives," the army said in a statement, adding that it would "continue to maintain order ... and prevent the infiltration of terrorists into Israeli communities".

Hamas declares a national holiday after the cease-fire with Israel, but sees the halt in fighting as a temporary solution. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

Israel launched an air offensive against Hamas and other Gaza militant factions on Nov. 14 with the declared aim of stopping their rocket fire into the Jewish state. The sides entered an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire on Wednesday night.

During the Gaza conflict, two Palestinians were shot dead during anti-Israel demonstrations in the West Bank that turned into confrontations with the army.

According to NBC News, some 162 Palestinians died and more than 1,200 were wounded in the conflict; five Israelis were killed and 240 were wounded.

NBC staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

Bernat Armangue / AP

Israel's military said it had accomplished its objectives while Hamas claimed victory after the two sides exchanged deadly airstrikes and rocket attacks for over a week.

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