A roadside bomb that severely wounded a motorist in northern Israel earlier this week was planted by a terrorist who infiltrated the country from Lebanon, security forces revealed on Wednesday.
After the blast, the IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police began a joint manhunt in an effort to catch the terrorist, including the establishment of roadblocks in northern Israel.
A vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint near the village of Ya’ara containing a suspect who was equipped with a suicide bomb vest and a rifle. Israeli security forces shot and killed him.
The Israel Defense Forces has not yet named who it believes dispatched the terrorist, but it is not ruling out Hezbollah.
One possibility being examined is that the terrorist was driven to Megiddo from the border area; a man suspected of acting as his driver is under arrest.
Security sources believe the suspect likely planned to carry out an additional attack before possibly seeking to return to Lebanon.
Tal Beeri, head of research at the Alma Research and Education Center, which specializes in Israel’s defense challenges in the northern arenas, said, “We assess that there are two main possibilities for identifying the responsible element: Hezbollah and Hamas.
“Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a player in Lebanon but with fewer operational-military capabilities. We believe an attack like this cannot happen without, at the minimum, Hezbollah’s knowledge.
“It seems likely to us that Hezbollah is responsible for this even if Hamas was also involved. We assume that in either case, the Palestine Division of the Iranian Quds Force was updated and that the attack was coordinated with it,” Beeri said.
Whoever was behind the attack, it concluded that it could exploit the political crisis in Israel to time an attack of this kind while managing risks in regards to an Israeli response, which it assesses will be minor, said Beeri.
In January, it became public knowledge that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization has built more than 20 observation and guard posts along the Israel-Lebanon border over the past year, in an escalatory move.