Tensions with Hezbollah could rise if the army says the suspect was killed after an Israeli was seriously injured when a car exploded.
The Israeli army says its soldiers have killed an armed man suspected of entering the country from Lebanon and blowing up a car at an intersection in northern Israel, raising the risk of renewed tensions with Hezbollah.
The incident happened on Monday, but was made public by the military on Wednesday.
“An explosive device was detonated next to Megiddo Junction on Monday, seriously injuring an Israeli civilian,” the Israeli army said on Twitter. “During searches in northern Israel, security forces neutralized a terrorist armed with an explosive belt and multiple weapons in a vehicle.”
Soldiers stopped a car carrying the bombing suspect at a roadside checkpoint shortly after the explosion, the army said. “Our assumption is that he planned to carry out another terrorist attack,” perhaps before committing suicide, it said.
The army said it shot and killed the suspect and is questioning the driver. Their identities have not been made public.
“The possible involvement of the Hezbollah terrorist army is being investigated,” it said.
There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese group.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said the incident was potentially “very serious” and prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a trip to Germany.
“It is a very serious security breach for (Israel),” he said. “We rarely see people crossing into northern Israel from Lebanon.”
Netanyahu was scheduled to fly back to Tel Aviv on Thursday. “It’s likely he’s going to address the nation,” Khan said.
The Israel Security Institute has held several meetings under a gag order over the past two days. “This is how seriously they take it,” Khan said. “What really concerns them now is the type of explosive that has been used.”
The military said the device exploded at a 90-degree angle, which is unusual.
The incident threatens renewed animosity between Israel and Hezbollah, bitter enemies that waged a month-long war in 2006.
Israel’s northern border with Lebanon has remained calm but tense since the conflict. Israel discovered what it says was a network of tunnels built by Hezbollah along the border four years ago.
Israel views the Iranian-backed Shiite group as the biggest immediate threat, estimating that Hezbollah has aimed 150,000 rockets and missiles at Israel.
Israel also regularly attacks targets in Syria, saying it is Iranian arms shipments headed for the Lebanese group.