Defense establishment set to release details of mystery ‘security developments’

Netanyahu shortens trip to Berlin following consultation with defense minister over recent incidents in northern Israel that are barred from publication

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

From right, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant observe a joint US, Israeli military exercise at the Air Force command center, January 25, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
File: From right, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant observe a joint US, Israeli military exercise at the Air Force command center, January 25, 2023. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israel’s defense establishment was set to release for publication details of mysterious security incidents that occurred in the north of the country, defense officials said Wednesday.

The security officials confirmed to Hebrew-language media military reporters that some details related to an incident that was censored would be published by Wednesday evening.

Military officials have reportedly been pressing the political echelon to allow the publication of the recent security incidents.

The Ynet and Maariv news sites separately reported that senior officials in the Israel Defense Forces supported partially lifting censorship over the incidents and allowing the publication of some details.

Political officials, however, opposed allowing the publication of any details related to the incidents, the reports said.

The censorship has come under criticism by civilians and analysts, as unsubstantiated rumors regarding the incidents have spread on social media, leaving many worried and confused.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, held a security assessment with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday afternoon, his office said in a brief statement.

The statement said Netanyahu was following and was being updated on unspecified “security developments” in recent days.

The recent incidents were not detailed due to security concerns and ongoing investigations.

Netanyahu, who was heading to Berlin on Wednesday, was to return to Israel earlier than initially scheduled. An updated schedule from his office said he would fly back Thursday night, instead of Friday morning.

On Tuesday, Gallant’s office also said the defense minister had held a number of security assessments over the past day due to unspecified “security incidents.”

His office said the meetings were held with top army and defense officials, including military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi; the head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar; the head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk; and the head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva.

The officials presented Gallant with “preliminary findings from the investigation of the incidents,” Gallant’s office said.

“The defense minister instructed [them] to continue efforts to ensure the daily routine of Israeli citizens,” it added.

The meetings came after a mysterious explosion on Monday seriously wounded a man on a highway in northern Israel.

The scene of an apparent bombing at the Megiddo Junction in northern Israel, March 13, 2023. (Courtesy: Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Shin Bet security agency was involved in the investigation of the bombing on the Route 65 highway at the Megiddo Junction, which was thought to be a terror attack.

Shareef ad-Din, 21, from the Arab village of Salem, was seriously hurt in the suspected attack after being hit by shrapnel from the large bomb, which was believed to have been planted on the side of the highway.

The highway remained closed for around 10 hours as police searched the area for other possible explosive devices.

Recent months have seen a number of bombing attacks by Palestinians.

In November, an East Jerusalem Palestinian with Islamic State ties set off two bombs at two entrances to the capital, killing two and wounding more than 20 others.

On Friday morning, a Palestinian tried to break into a settlement farm in the West Bank with several improvised explosive devices before being shot dead. And on Friday night, a Palestinian suspect was detained for allegedly planting a bomb on a bus in a West Bank settlement a night earlier.

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