IDF: Suspected Hezbollah bomber crossed from Lebanon using ladder, not tunnel

Military says member of Iran-backed group climbed over northern border fence to stage bomb attack that seriously injured man in Megiddo

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

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

The suspected Hezbollah terrorist who planted a bomb at Megiddo Junction in the north of Israel last week crossed the Lebanon border fence using a ladder, defense sources said Tuesday.

The announcement came a day after the IDF said it had figured out how the suspect entered Israel from Lebanon, but did not elaborate, only saying it had ruled out the use of a tunnel.

The suspected use of a ladder by the suspect to climb over the border fence was permitted for publication on Tuesday, although the army is still not commenting on the matter.

The IDF has previously said the suspected terrorist crossed into Israel from Lebanon overnight between Saturday and Sunday of last week and planted the bomb, possibly on behalf of the Iran-backed terror group.

On Monday March 13, a bomb planted on the side of the Route 65 highway near Megiddo Junction exploded, seriously wounding Shareef ad-Din, 21, from the Arab village of Salem.

Many details surrounding the blast were kept under wraps due to the ongoing investigation, which was spearheaded by the Shin Bet security agency.

Israeli soldiers are seen on the Lebanese border, March 13, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

The bomb itself was considered unusual according to the IDF, and did not appear to be similar to explosive devices used by Palestinians in recent months. Ad-Din’s car, which was hit by the shrapnel, was around 30 meters (98 feet) away from the device.

After the attack at Megiddo Junction, the alleged terrorist hitched a ride to northern Israel.

Several hours after the explosion, soldiers spotted a vehicle with the suspected terrorist near the northern Israeli town of Ya’ara, close to the border with Lebanon, the IDF said.

Officers of the elite police Yamam counterterrorism unit and Shin Bet officers opened fire at the suspect, killing him. The IDF said the suspect posed a “clear danger” to the security forces and had a primed explosives belt on him at the time.

Several more weapons were found in the vehicle, according to the IDF. The military said it was believed his killing had prevented another attack.

The driver of the car was detained by officers at the scene, before being released after questioning on Wednesday. He was not believed to have been involved in the attack.

The border fence between Lebanon and Israel, as seen from the Arab village of Ghajar, in northern Israel, January 13, 2023. (Isaac Harari/Flash90)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant later issued a warning to “whoever is responsible” for the bombing, without explicitly mentioning the prime suspect, the Hezbollah terror group.

Between December 2018 and January 2019, the IDF conducted an operation to locate and destroy tunnels dug by Hezbollah into northern Israel from southern Lebanon. In total, the military said, it found six such passages and rendered them inoperable — either using explosives or filling them with concrete.

The IDF said the tunnels were built with the specific purpose of enabling thousands of Hezbollah terrorists to stage an infiltration attack on military and civilian targets in northern Israel as a surprise opening maneuver in a future war.

In January 2020, the IDF began installing a series of underground sensors along the northern border in order to detect any new subterranean tunnels being dug into Israeli territory from Lebanon.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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