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Israeli spokesman: Man held in teens' killing is a 'senior member of Hamas'

By Joe Sterling and Christine Theodorou, CNN
updated 8:20 AM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The man was trying to cross the border into Jordan, Regev said
  • The teens' deaths spurred anger across israel
  • On July 2, a Palestinian teen was killed, an act believed to be a revenge killing

(CNN) -- A man arrested in July and accused of having a role in the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teenagers is "a senior member of Hamas," Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told CNN's Jake Tapper.

Regev made the remarks Wednesday during a live interview on CNN's "New Day."

"Apparently he was trying to illicitly cross the border into Jordan, but we got him in time," Regev said. "His arrest will lead, I hope, to further arrests."

After the on-air interview, Regev was asked what proof Israel has that this man is a member of Hamas.

Cease-fire offers window to aid groups
The Middle East: A region in turmoil
Palestinians in Gaza celebrate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Tuesday, August 26. After more than seven weeks of heavy fighting, Israel and Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire that puts off dealing with core long-term issues. Palestinians in Gaza celebrate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on Tuesday, August 26. After more than seven weeks of heavy fighting, Israel and Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire that puts off dealing with core long-term issues.
Israel-Gaza crisis
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Photos: Israel-Gaza crisis Photos: Israel-Gaza crisis

He said he would get back with an answer. Regev did not elaborate on the exact role the man allegedly had in the kidnapping and killing of the teenagers.

The three Israeli teens -- including one who was a dual U.S. citizen -- were on their way home from school in the West Bank in June when they were abducted. Their bodies were discovered July 1 in the West Bank. Israel blamed Hamas -- the militant anti-Israel group that controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Hamas, whose fighters have targeted and killed Israeli soldiers and civilians over the years, denied involvement in the attack on the teens.

Grassroots rage in Israel

The kidnappings and killings provoked grassroots rage in Israel.

Map: Middle East region  Map: Middle East region
Map: Middle East regionMap: Middle East region

On July 2, a Palestinian teen was abducted and his body was found an hour later. Palestinian and Israeli officials condemned the killing. Days later, Israel announced suspects were arrested and there was a "strong indication" it was a revenge killing.

Rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel increased and Israel carried out airstrikes targeting militants in Gaza. On July 7, Israel declared Operation Protective Edge, an offensive aimed at Hamas and other militants in Gaza.

The offensive, designed to take out Hamas-built tunnels leading into Israel and to disable the militants' arsenal, wound down this week with a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire.

It comes after fierce fighting that killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel. Israeli strikes targeting Hamas and other militant groups left widespread destruction and displacement in Gaza.

READ: Why are so many civilians dying in Hamas-Israel war?

READ: Opinion: Bring Hamas to the table

READ: CNN exclusive: Inside the mind of Hamas' political leader

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