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IDF: Terrorist bomber did not infiltrate from Lebanon via a tunnel

The military did elaborate or provide a definitive account of how the terrorist penetrated Israel’s border.

Israel Defense Force soldiers guard on the border between Lebanon and Israel on March 15, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.
Israel Defense Force soldiers guard on the border between Lebanon and Israel on March 15, 2023. Photo by David Cohen/Flash90.

The terrorist from Lebanon responsible for the March 13 roadside bombing in northern Israel did not infiltrate the border via a tunnel, the Israel Defense Forces said on Monday.

The military did not elaborate or explain how the border was penetrated, saying only that the incident was still being investigated.

“The IDF continues to study and investigate the incident in order to draw the necessary operational conclusions,” it said in a statement.

The bomb, which was placed behind a barrier on Route 65 near Megiddo Junction some 18 miles southeast of Haifa and 37 miles from the Lebanese border, detonated at around 6 a.m., seriously wounding Shareef ad-Din, 21, a resident of the Israeli Arab town of Salem.

After the blast, the IDF, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Israel Police launched an intensive search for the terrorist, including the establishment of roadblocks in northern Israel. The terrorist, who was equipped with a suicide vest and a rifle, was killed by Israeli security forces after being  stopped at a checkpoint near the village of Ya’ara.

One possibility being examined is that the terrorist was driven to Megiddo from the border area; a man suspected of acting as his driver has been arrested.

Security sources believe the suspect likely planned to carry out an additional attack before possibly seeking to return to Lebanon.

The military has not yet named who it believes dispatched the terrorist, but it is suspected that Hezbollah was involved.

The IDF launched “Operation Northern Shield” in December 2018 to discover and eliminate attack tunnels constructed by Hezbollah from Lebanon to Israel.

“These cross-border terror tunnels were built by Hezbollah with direct support and funding from Iran. They were built with one purpose in mind—to attack and murder innocent Israeli men, women and children,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time. “This is a grave violation of Israel’s sovereignty and a gross violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution #1701. It is an unacceptable act of wanton aggression.”

According to the resolution, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War between the IDF and Hezbollah, the terrorist group is forbidden to operate near the frontier.

In January, it became public knowledge that Hezbollah has built more than 20 observation and guard posts along the Israel-Lebanon border over the past year.

On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that progress was being made in the investigation into the bombing, and vowed to exact a price from those responsible.

“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.

“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.

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