Some details surrounding incident barred from publication

2 suspects detained on central Israel highway after blast in Tel Aviv park

Masked plainclothes officers detain men on Route 431 near Ramle; Shin Bet says at least one linked to explosion in Hayarkon Park; security forces on high alert during High Holidays

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Security forces at the scene where two suspects were arrested on the Route 431 highway, near Ramla, September 15, 2023. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
Security forces at the scene where two suspects were arrested on the Route 431 highway, near Ramla, September 15, 2023. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

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.

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.

Masked officers in plainclothes detain a suspect on Route 431 at the Ramle interchange on September 15, 2023. (Courtesy: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

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.

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