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Gallant: Israel will exact a price from those behind highway bombing

The device that wounded a man in northern Israel was planted by a terrorist who infiltrated from Lebanon.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant holds a situational assessment along the border with Lebanon, March 16, 2023. Credit: Israeli Ministry of Defense Spokesperson's Office.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant holds a situational assessment along the border with Lebanon, March 16, 2023. Credit: Israeli Ministry of Defense Spokesperson's Office.

Progress is being made in the investigation into the highway bombing near Megiddo earlier this week that seriously wounded a man, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday.

Israeli authorities revealed on Wednesday evening that the roadside bomb was planted by a terrorist who infiltrated the country from Lebanon. He was later killed by Israeli forces while trying to return to that country.

The Israel Defense Forces has not yet named who it believes dispatched the terrorist, but it is not ruling out Hezbollah.

“Following the assessment today on the northern border, I am impressed by the progress of the probe into the incident, the deployment of forces in the [northern] sector and the extensive intelligence work,” said Gallant on Thursday.

“The determined actions of the security agencies, which led to the elimination of the terrorist and the prevention of another attack, deserve all the praise. Whoever is responsible for the attack will pay for it. We will find the right place, the correct way, and hit back,” he added.

On Monday, Shareef ad-Din, 21, from the Israeli Arab town of Salem, was wounded when the explosive device detonated around 6 a.m. The bomb was planted behind a barrier by the side of the road near the Megiddo Junction, some 18 miles southeast of Haifa. The Megiddo Junction is located 37 miles from the Lebanese border as the crow flies, though traveling by roads would extend the journey by a further 12.5 miles.

An urgent investigation into the incident was opened, led by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

The initial inquiry found that the explosive device was of a design unusual to the area and not seen commonly in Judea and Samaria, said the IDF.

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.

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.

On Wednesday, Gallant briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the security developments, ahead of the latter’s departure for a diplomatic visit to Germany.

Netanyahu’s office announced shortly thereafter that the premier would be returning from Berlin on Thursday evening and not on Friday morning as originally scheduled.

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