Two suspects were detained by security forces on a highway in central Israel on Friday on suspicion of involvement in an explosion that rocked a park in Tel Aviv hours earlier.
The explosive device, planted near a tree in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park, went off early Friday morning, causing no injuries. Police said officers were dispatched to the park and were probing “the circumstances of the incident.”
The Shin Bet security agency said in a statement that it was involved in the police investigation of the blast in Hayarkon Park, indicating that authorities suspected the explosion was terror-related.
Several hours later, police closed off part of the Route 431 highway near the central city of Ramle, and security forces stopped a suspicious car.
Officers of the Yamam police counter-terrorism unit and Shin Bet agents, masked and in plainclothes, were seen detaining a suspect on the side of the highway. The officers also arrested one other person in the vehicle, according to law enforcement officials.
No explosive devices were found in the car, despite initial suspicions by security authorities.
תיעוד מרגע פיצוץ מטען החבלה בפארק הירקון הבוקר , נבדק חשד לקשר לאירוע בכביש 431 pic.twitter.com/K0IC7olDd8
— בז news (@1717Bazz) September 15, 2023
The Shin Bet later said the pair, from the Palestinian town of al-Eizariya near Jerusalem, lived intermittently in the coastal Tel Aviv suburb of Jaffa. Both men are Israeli citizens.
One of the suspects implicated himself in the Hayarkon Park explosion, following an initial interrogation by the Shin Bet, the agency claimed.
Further details surrounding the incident were barred from publication but Channel 13 reported Friday evening that security forces believe the device exploded prematurely amid suspicions it was planted at the park for pick-up by another person or people to be used in a terror attack at another site.
Security forces have been on high alert ahead of the Rosh Hashana holiday celebrated this weekend, amid a rise in warnings and intelligence tips about possible terror attacks.
A statement from police said Route 431 was closed to traffic at the Ramle interchange and called on drivers to take alternate routes. The highway was later reopened.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.