Israel says roadside bomb suspect may have come from Lebanon
The Israeli army said Wednesday that soldiers killed an armed man suspected of entering northern Israel from Lebanon and blowing up a car, raising the risk of renewed tensions with Hezbollah.
"We are examining a possibility of the Hezbollah terrorist organization of being involved" with the suspected attacker who was shot dead on Monday, the army said.
The security situation in Israel prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short his two-day visit to Germany, his office said. Netanyahu will return late Thursday from Germany, a day earlier than planned, his office said.
The Israeli army said soldiers stopped a car carrying the bombing suspect at a checkpoint Monday shortly after a roadside explosion seriously injured a driver near Megiddo Junction in the country's north. The suspect was wearing a suicide vest and had a rifle and a gun when he was stopped. The army said it shot and killed the man and is questioning the driver.
The army said the device that exploded was unusual for the area, exploding at a 90-degree angle. That led officials to suspect that the man infiltrated from Lebanon and may have been linked to Hezbollah.
"He could have used the explosive belt in the first attack but chose not to," the army said in a press briefing.
"Our assumption is that he was aiming to conduct another terrorist attack," perhaps before committing suicide, it added.
The army said it did not release the details of the incident for two days because it was trying to determine the suspect's identity, which it did not release.
Netanyahu received a briefing on the incident Wednesday, which his office said led him to shorten his trip to Germany. The trip also was delayed, Israeli media reported, by negotiations over a proposal to overhaul Israel's judicial system, which has prompted massive protests.
A Hezbollah spokesman in Beirut did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
Unnamed sources meanwhile told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television that Israel suspects that the attacker might have used a tunnel dug by Hezbollah to infiltrate the border and that the attack was likely carried out by "two Palestinians who crossed from Lebanon."
Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies that fought a monthlong war in the summer of 2006. Israel considers the Iran-backed group its most serious immediate threat, estimating that Hezbollah has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.
Israel's northern border with Lebanon has remained quiet but tense since the 2006 war.
But Israel discovered four years ago what it said was a network of tunnels built by Hezbollah along the border. Israel also frequently attacks targets in Syria, saying they are Iranian weapons deliveries headed to Hezbollah.