Israel has revealed that its soldiers shot and killed a man who crossed the border from Lebanon and planted a roadside bomb that seriously wounded an Israeli driver.
The explosion took place on Monday morning at the Megiddo junction in northern Israel and was followed by a strict gagging order that was partially lifted on Wednesday night.
The alleged perpetrator was shot dead on the Lebanese border several hours after Monday’s bombing – he was armed with an explosives belt and carried a gun and additional explosives.
Israel believes the driver who was injured, a young Israeli Arab citizen, was an innocent victim and not targeted specifically.
Security officials believe the gunman was either a member of the Shia Hizbullah militia or sent by the Iranian-backed organisation. They identified the explosive device as a type used by Hizbullah that was previously used in an attempt to target Israeli soldiers along the border with Syria in 2020
Security consultations were held following the incident but, as of Wednesday night, there was no military response from Israel.
Hizbullah denied responsibility.
Although the Israel-Lebanon border has been quiet for a prolonged period, Israeli military sources said that if it is determined that Hizbullah was behind the attack, there will be consequences and Israel will not remain silent.
In a separate development, Israel’s foreign ministry will refuse to host European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, after recent comments he made over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and criticism he voiced over the judicial overhaul planned by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.
Israeli officials stressed that while Mr Borrell is not barred from the country, Israeli officials will not host him for an official visit. Mr Borrell had recently expressed an interest in visiting Israel and the occupied West Bank, but Israel has signalled that it will not co-operate. “There’s no reason to reward him for his conduct,” a foreign ministry official said.
The diplomatic spat comes after Mr Borrell addressed a special session of the European Parliament on Tuesday that discussed “the deterioration of democracy in Israel and the consequences for the occupied territories”.
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Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen criticised that the session took place. “There’s no place for any comparisons between Israeli terror victims and Palestinian terrorists supported by the Palestinian Authority,” Mr Cohen said, adding that “the EU must stop intervening in Israel’s domestic politics”.
Mr Borrell denied the allegation. “I spoke on the phone with Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen, who was not very happy about this debate. He was concerned and asking why the European Parliament is interfering in internal affairs of Israel – once again, blaming me,” he said. “I am sorry but if the parliament calls me to discuss something, I have to come.”
Mr Borrell also criticised the moves by the Israeli government to curtail the powers of the judiciary, a move the opposition claims will undermine Israeli democracy.