Hamas says it murdered soldier to pressure Israel on prisoners

JERUSALEM — Three members of a terrorist cell that abducted an Israeli soldier last summer said they kidnapped Sharon Edri in an effort to pressure Israel to release Hamas prisoners.

They said they murdered Edri only after he resisted them.

The terrorists, who are in Palestinian Authority jails, discussed the kidnapping and murder during an interview with the Arab-language newspaper Al-Quds.

Months after he was reported missing, Edri's body was found earlier this year buried in a West Bank village where members of the cell lived.

The terrorist cell, from the village of Tsurif near the West Bank town of Hebron, is believed responsible for a number of terrorist attacks during the past two years that killed 11 Israelis.

Their attacks included the March 21 suicide bombing at Cafe Apropo in Tel Aviv that killed three Israelis and wounded 47 others.

The cell members said the Tel Aviv bombing came in response to Israel's decision, several days earlier, to start construction of a new Jewish neighborhood at Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem.

The cell members denied that Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat had given the "green light" for the attack — a charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made at the time.

They said they had only followed instructions from the Hamas leadership, adding that they did not need Arafat's approval.

Two other members of the cell are being held by Israel.