Israel defence minister vows to retaliate after rare roadside bomb attack
On Thursday, Yoav Gallant, Israel's minister of defence, warned that the side responsible for a rare roadside bomb attack this week would be found and held accountable.
"Whoever carried out this attack will regret having carried out an attack against the citizens of Israel and against the state of Israel. We will find the right timing and appropriate manner to hit back," Gallant told reporters while touring the Israel-Lebanon border.
The UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon said Thursday it had not observed any border crossings after Israel said it killed a suspect wearing an explosive belt who may have entered from Lebanon.
Hezbollah has not commented on the allegation.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) "has not observed any crossing of the Blue Line in recent days," said spokesman Andrea Tenenti, referring to the frontier demarcated by the UN in 2000 after Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon.
Israel's 🇮🇱 Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is now touring the Israel-Lebanon 🇱🇧 border w the Israeli army chief of staff & security officials, as the investigation continues into the infiltration of the suspect who planted a roadside bomb in northern Israelhttps://t.co/ePSpUUFA2S https://t.co/2yN2n4vRWl pic.twitter.com/UH0D3GtXWH— Saad Abedine (@SaadAbedine) March 16, 2023
UNIFIL acts as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel, neighbours that remain technically at war and have no diplomatic relations. The force operates in the south near the border, a Hezbollah stronghold.
On Wednesday, the Israeli military claimed it is examining if the Lebanese group Hezbollah was behind a roadside bombing near Megido in northern Israel on Monday. A joint press release by the Israeli army, the Shabak and the police claimed that the Israeli security services had neutralised a man near the border with Lebanon believed to who planted the explosive device near Monday, which seriously injured an Israeli citizen upon detonation.
"Initial investigation revealed that the terrorist penetrated the border from the Lebanese side earlier in the week...the extent of the Hezbollah organisation is being examined," the statement read.
After planting the explosive device, the man apparently decided to head back to Lebanon, according to the Israeli military. "After the terror attack near Mejido junction, the terrorist stopped a car and asked the driver to head north," the Israeli military claimed.
While searching for the perpetrator, the military stopped the car near Ya'ara and neutralised the suspect.
"The forces found weapons, a primed explosive belt and additional materials," the statement added.
Assuming the suspect had crossed the Lebanese border into Israel and reached Megiddo, he would have travelled around 60 kilometres.
Israel and Lebanon signed a maritime deal in October 2022 with US mediation after more than a decade of negotiations.
Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006 in which at least 1,109 Lebanese civilians and 250 fighters from the Shia group were killed. Forty-three Israeli civilians and 12 Israeli soldiers were also killed.
An uneasy truce between Israel and Lebanon remains intact as both countries struggle with internal problems. The Lebanese economy is failing while anti-government rallies over judicial overhaul in Israel continue.