IDF Suspects Hezbollah Behind Bombing Attack On Northern Highway; Terrorist Killed

IDF Suspects Hezbollah Behind Bombing Attack On Northern Highway; Terrorist Killed

Lebanon and Hezbollah 

IDF Suspects Hezbollah Behind Bombing Attack On Northern Highway; Terrorist Killed

The Israeli military suspects Hezbollah is behind a blast on a highway in northern Israel that seriously wounded a man earlier this week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet security agency said Wednesday. The alleged terrorist was shot dead on the Lebanese border several hours after the attack on Monday. He was armed with an explosives belt at the time.

On Monday morning, a bomb planted on the side of the Route 65 highway near the Megiddo Junction exploded, seriously wounding Shareef ad-Din, 21, from the Arab village of Salem. The bomb itself was considered unusual according to the IDF and did not appear to be similar to the explosive devices used by Palestinians in recent months. Ad-Din’s car that was hit by the shrapnel was around 30 meters (98 feet) away from the device. 

On Monday afternoon, several hours after the explosion, soldiers spotted a vehicle with the suspected Lebanese 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 was a “clear danger” to the security forces and had a primed explosives belt on him at the time. 

The military said the suspected terrorist crossed into Israel from Lebanon overnight between Saturday and Sunday and planted the bomb, possibly on behalf of the Iran-backed Hezbollah. The exact manner in which the suspect crossed into Israel was still being investigated, as were his potential links to Hezbollah. The IDF said it expects that ongoing construction work to build a wall along the northern frontier, to replace an aging fence, would be completed within two years.  

While Hezbollah is the party primarily suspected of dispatching the terrorist, his possession of an explosives belt may indicate that he is not a direct member of the group. Hezbollah has not carried out a suicide bombing attack since December 30, 1999, targeting Israeli forces in south Lebanon. However, in the years since, it has facilitated and supported such attacks by others, including Palestinian militants during the years of the Second Intifada. 

Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Hamas Officials Visit Moscow After Invitation  

Hamas militant group received an official invitation to Moscow from Russia on Tuesday morning, the deputy head of Hamas's Political Bureau Saleh al-Arouri confirmed in an official party interview.

Al-Arouri said party leaders visited Russia and met Lavrov and that the visit was a reflection of Hamas’ weight among major global powers. "The leadership of the movement visited Moscow and met Sergey Lavrov. It was an important visit that highlights the role of the movement with many global actors," Arouri said. He added that there might be another international Hamas trip "in the coming weeks." Arouri did not specify when the visit to Moscow took place, saying only that it happened "recently."  

Commenting on the increasing Israeli attacks against Palestinians ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Arouri said the movement’s “patience is running out.” Al-Arouri concluded the interview by congratulating Iran and Saudi Arabia's diplomatic rapprochement, noting that this is a step that will slow down any Israeli effort for normalization with Saudi Arabia.

A report published on Thursday on the Hamas website, however, showed Hamas Foreign Affairs Bureau chairman Musa Abu Marzouk and Political Bureau member Izzat Al-Rishq, who also represents Hamas in Moscow, meeting with President Vladimir Putin’s Special Middle East Envoy Sergey Bogdanov at the Russian Foreign Ministry building. 

The Palestinian side related what it called the “crimes of the extremist Zionist government” against the Palestinian people, the threat it poses to regional stability, and the Palestinian people’s right to resist the Israeli occupation “by all means available.” Bogdanov stressed Moscow’s support for the Palestinian people and their rights. It’s unclear if this visit is the same as the one mentioned by Al-Arouri. 

Russian-Hamas relations have steadily grown. Russia has sought to increase its role in the Palestinian reconciliation dossier, with some Palestinians hoping it will break the U.S. monopoly over the file that has been stalled for more than a decade. Hamas officials have made several visits to the Russian capital, most recently in September of last year. Moscow’s public support for Hamas also comes as its relations with Israel soured following its invasion of Ukraine last year. Israel has maintained a cautious stance in the war, but Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s February visit to Kyiv marked a small shift as Israel grows more concerned about Moscow-Tehran military cooperation and the use of Iranian drones in Ukraine.  

Hamas Warns Israel It Will 'Intervene' During Ramadan if Al-Aqsa Status Quo Violated 

Hamas leaders are warning Israel against the annual escalation usually seen during Ramadan, emphasizing that any changes to the status quo on Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound would lead the Gaza-based militant group "to intervene." 

Deputy Hamas commander Marwan Issa gave a rare interview on Wednesday in which he said that the coming days will be very "busy." Any change to the status quo arrangement at the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem would trigger a response from the group, he said, declaring that Gaza will not remain quiet and that "we will protect the Palestinian people with all our might and when it is necessary to intervene, we will intervene." 

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas' Political Bureau, said that Israel's attempt to use the upcoming month of Ramadan to alter the status quo will provoke an angry response from Palestinians: "Hamas is closely following Israel's moves, including in Jerusalem, and we will not fail the Palestinian people," he said.  

Islamic Jihad, Hamas commanders killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin 

Two commanders of local branches of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist groups were killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin on Thursday. The two killed were identified as Nidal Hazem, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement's al-Quds Brigades and the commander of the Baha Force unit, and Youssef Shreim, a member of Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades. A third individual identified as Omar Awadin and a fourth individual were killed amid the clashes as well and 20 others were wounded.  

The IDF, Shin Bet, and Border Police announced after the raid that they had assassinated Hazem and an additional member of the Islamic Jihad movement named Youssef Abu Ashrin. Abu Ashrin has not been reported as one of those killed in Palestinian reports and it is unclear if Youssef Shreim is the same individual. According to the IDF, Hazem was involved in "significant terrorist activity" and Abu Ashrin was involved in producing explosives and firing at IDF soldiers, among other terrorist activities.  


Syria Accuses Israel Of Rare Daytime Strike, Says 3 Soldiers Wounded 

Israel carried out a rare daytime strike against targets in northwestern Syria on Sunday morning, injuring three soldiers and causing damage, the state-run broadcaster SANA said. 

There was no response from the IDF, in line with its policy of not commenting on specific air raids in the country. SANA, citing a military source, said Israeli fighter jets launched a volley of missiles from over north Lebanon, targeting sites in the coastal Tartus province and near Masyaf in the Hama province. While Israeli attacks in Syria typically take place under the cover of darkness, Sunday’s strike was conducted at around 7:15 a.m., according to SANA.