March 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Suspects Infiltrator From Lebanon in Rare Roadside Bombing

March 15, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Suspects Infiltrator From Lebanon in Rare Roadside Bombing

Latest Developments

Ending a two-day official silence, Israel said on Wednesday that its forces had intercepted and killed an infiltrator from Lebanon whom it blamed for a rare roadside bombing at the Megiddo junction. The infiltrator may have belonged to Hezbollah, Israeli authorities noted. Monday’s blast on Route 65 in northern Israel critically injured a 21-year-old motorist. Hours of traffic jams ensued as security forces ensured no other devices had been planted and conducted a manhunt for the perpetrator.

Expert Analysis

“This is a troubling development that suggests a sharp escalation in terrorism directed against Israel, possibly by Hezbollah and in cooperation with Palestinians or Israeli Arabs. Israel appears to be treating the matter with appropriate seriousness, with a restraint that clearly also applies to the timing and extent of the incident’s publication. Israel will no doubt be considering whether and how to retaliate across the Lebanese border, given the risk of opening a new front with Hezbollah just as it is battling Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank and preparing for a possible showdown with Iran.”
Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“This brazen terror attack deep in the heart of Israel is a litmus test for the nation’s ability to withstand external threats during a time of domestic unrest. With tensions already running high in the Palestinian arena, the timing of the attack just before Ramadan suggests an attempt to plunge Israel into chaos. While the culprit has not yet been identified, all signs point to Hezbollah. The Netanyahu government may be reluctant to respond, but the gravity of the situation may leave it with no choice.”
Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Even as it continues its involvement in terror activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the details of Hezbollah’s role in the terrorist operation at the Megiddo junction remain unclear. However, Israel will need to address this gap in security on the northern border, and determine whether the terrorist’s crossing into Israel involved the use of Hezbollah tunnels that have escaped IDF detection. Moreover, if Hezbollah’s role is ascertained, how the Israeli government decides to respond will be critical. Israel has largely stayed away from operating inside Lebanon so as to avoid a potential all-out conflagration. It remains to be seen if it will reassess this approach.”
Tony Badran, FDD Research Fellow

Israel Catches the Suspect

Lifting the veil of secrecy, the military said a combined Shin Bet and police SWAT team unit had stopped a car on Monday near Moshav Ya’ara, a mile from the Lebanese border, in which the terrorist was a traveling as a passenger. As he was armed with weaponry that included a suicide bomber vest and posed a threat, Israeli forces shot him dead and took the driver into custody. Initial indications were that the terrorist had hitched a ride with the driver.

“An initial inquiry suggests that the terrorist presumably crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory earlier this week,” the military said in a statement, which did not elaborate on how such a crossing might have been managed or provide further details on the man’s identity. “The possibility of the involvement of the Hezbollah terrorist army is also under review,” it said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the government said a visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Germany this week would be cut short due to developments in national security — an apparent reference to Monday’s incident.

Related Analysis

The Quiet War between Israel and Iran,” by Jonathan Schanzer

PGMs: Iran’s Precision-Guided Munitions Project in the Shadow of a Nuclear Deal,” by Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Lebanon