Hezbollah suspected in a cross-border attack inside Israel

The IDF announced on Wednesday they suspect Hezbollah was behind a roadside bombing that left an Israeli driver injured on Monday.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military said a suspect who crossed into Israeli territory from Lebanon carried out a roadside bomb attack adjacent to the Magiddo Junction in northern Israel.

The military’s statement says the suspect was identified in Ya’ara and killed after he posed a threat to security forces. Israeli forces found weapons and an explosive belt in his possession. The IDF noted that due to the weapons found on the suspect, he may have planned another assault before returning to Lebanon.

It’s unclear how the suspect crossed into Israel from Lebanon undetected. Due to the type of bomb used and where the suspect originated from, the Israeli defense establishment is investigating if Hezbollah carried out the strike.

Hezbollah’s involvement in the attack is likely, but it may not be the only actor involved.

In recent years, there have been signs that Palestinian militant organizations, with the backing of Hezbollah and Iran, have been working toward attacking Israel from Lebanese territory. Suspected Palestinian militants fired rockets from south Lebanon into Israeli territory on several occasions. For example, on Aug. 24, 2021, three rockets were fired into northern Israel, and the IDF suspected that Palestinian militant groups were involved. A similar incident occurred a month prior during the Gaza-Israel conflict. Three rockets fired from Lebanon landed off the coast of northern Israel.

Militant organizations aligned with Iran may be sensing weakness in the Israeli government due to the country’s current political instability. The West Bank is amid an armed uprising, and Israel is undergoing the worst terror strikes since March 2022.

The buildup of militant-led violence in the West Bank and Israel has been slow. Shortly after the May 2021 Gaza war, Israeli security forces operating in the West Bank engaged in armed clashes with militants on an increasing basis. For example, on June 10, 2021, gunmen, including Palestinian Authority (PA) security officers, confronted Israeli security forces searching for two men who shot at Israeli soldiers. Two PA security officers and the founder of Islamic Jihad’s Jenin branch, Jamil al-Amouri, were killed in a shootout.

While the armed uprising in the West Bank and the spate of recent terror assaults inside Israel concern the Israeli defense establishment, what alarms it more are bombings inside the country.

Last Thursday, an IED was found inside a bus in the Israeli settlement of Beitar Illit. Two days later, the IDF arrested the suspects involved in the plot.

On November 23, 2022, Islam Faroukh, an Islamic State sympathizer, planted two explosive devices at the Ramot junction and in the Givat Shaul suburb of Jerusalem. The explosions killed one civilian and injured twelve.

Many details remain unanswered about the Magiddo Junction bombing, and Israel has not responded against Hezbollah. However, there are strong indications the group is involved in the operation, possibly with the collaboration of Palestinian groups. What is clear right now is that there was a failure by Israel’s northern command to detect an infiltration from Lebanon that resulted in an attack deep inside Israeli territory.

Joe Truzman is a senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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