Who was responsible for the IED attack at the Megiddo Junction (March 13) – Description and analysis of the incident
During the days before March 13, a terrorist from Lebanese territory infiltrated Israel. At this stage, the location of the infiltration and how he penetrated are unclear, and his identity is unclear. One estimate is that the penetration area is between the community of Zar’it and the community of Adamit in Western Galilee.
On the morning of March 13, a roadside bomb exploded in Israel near the Megiddo junction on Route 65. The explosion hit a civilian vehicle traveling on the road from north to south. This is a main and busy traffic highway. The explosion seriously injured an Israeli civilian who was driving the vehicle. The IED that exploded is reminiscent of the types of IEDs used by Hezbollah and is not a familiar type of IED from the Palestinian arena.
On the evening of March 13, a vehicle carrying a driver and the terrorist was stopped near the community of Ya’ara. The vehicle was apparently on its way back to the border area. During the arrest, the terrorist was killed, and the driver who was with him was arrested. The terrorist was armed and wearing an explosive belt. It later turned out that this driver was not involved and he was released.
It is highly likely that the above terrorist, who infiltrated Lebanon, was the one who placed and
detonated the roadside bomb at the Megiddo junction. It is estimated that after infiltrating Israeli
territory, the terrorist made his way towards Route 65, near Megiddo, a distance of about 83 kilometers
inside Israel. The terrorist was likely assisted by an Israeli accomplice who drove him in the car. In the
area of the Megiddo junction, the terrorist placed a powerful roadside bomb near Route 65.
Our assessment indicates two main options for identifying the responsible party for the attack: Hezbollah and Hamas. The third factor, PIJ, also operates in the Lebanese arena but with fewer operational and military capabilities. In our assessment, such an operation and procedure cannot derive from south Lebanon without Hezbollah knowing and coordinating with it. We estimate that Hezbollah is responsible for the attack. There is a possibility that the operation was carried out in collaboration with Hamas and, in fact, was a joint operation. Presumably, in any case, the Palestine branch of the Quds Force (see below) was apprised, the action was coordinated with it, and Iranian inspiration was clearly in attendance.
As of the summer of 2022, we notice a change in Hezbollah’s doctrine. Hezbollah is willing to manage risks vis-à-vis Israel to the point of risking deterioration into war.
Several options could serve as a background for the attack (not necessarily according to the extent of their probability): an attempt to carry out a revenge attack against the background of Israel’s activity against the terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, a message concerning the “Israeli invasion of Lebanese lands” against the background of the construction of the building of the barrier along a blue line, and it is even possible that the Iranians initiated the activity as an act of revenge for the (alleged) Israeli activity against them in Iran and Syria. In our assessment, those responsible for the operation did so out of a sense of confidence in their strength, on the one hand, and their view of the current weakness of Israel. The party responsible for the action took advantage of Israel’s political/social situation and scheduled the implementation at this time. This was done while managing the risks regarding an Israeli response, which, in their assessment, at this time, will be minor and below the threshold of going to war.
If this is an action for which Hezbollah is responsible, in our assessment, Unit 133 (the successor to Unit 1800), headed by Hajj Khalil Harb, is the immediate suspect.
At this stage, whether the perpetrator was, a full-fledged Hezbollah operative or a (Palestinian) proxy is unknown. In our assessment, Hezbollah would prefer to use a Palestinian proxy in such a case.
Hezbollah Unit 1800, commanded by Hajj Khalil Harb, was established during the 1990s. The unit was named the “Lebanon-Palestine Operations” unit, and its mission was to plan and carry out terrorist attacks inside Israel using Palestinians. Among other things, the unit trained and instructed Palestinian Lebanese to carry out attacks against Israel.
A prominent example of this is the attack carried out in March 2002 near Kibbutz Matsuva, which is reminiscent of the current attack. Two Palestinian terrorists crossed the border from Lebanon to Israel on foot and opened fire from an ambush at civilian vehicles traveling on Route 70 near Kibbutz Matsuva. Six Israelis were killed by the gunfire. These Palestinians were recruited and directed by Unit 1800.
As a result of an organizational change in Hezbollah’s operational formation in the years following the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Unit 1800 was disbanded and replaced by Unit 133, whose missions are similar. To fulfill its mission of recruiting collaborators throughout Israeli territory and carrying out terrorist activities inside Israel, the Unit cooperates closely with the crime families in south Lebanon that smuggle weapons and drugs into Israel. These crime families are in close contact with criminal elements inside the state of Israel, which have the potential to recruit collaborators for Hezbollah.
Through these smuggling ties, Hezbollah attempts to establish a network of collaborators inside Israeli territory. These collaborators are engaged in collecting and transferring intelligence to Hezbollah. Some are even intended to assist and even physically carry out terrorist activities, as apparently happened in the present case.
In addition, smuggling is used by Hezbollah as a platform supporting terrorism. The smuggling is used to gather current intelligence on the operational area and examine the method of operation and reaction of the IDF forces. The smuggling operation results are analyzed by Hezbollah to draw conclusions in preparation for future military operations, such as tactical attacks against Israel in the border area and infiltrations into Israeli territories, such as in the current attack.
Hajj Khalil Harb (now 64 years old, born October 9, 1958 – see appendix), “Abu Mustafa,” gained extensive experience and knowledge related to the activity on the border with Israel and established close ties with the crime families in south Lebanon. Harb’s knowledge, experience, and connections contributed to his return to the area. In light of this, over the past year, he has been appointed to once again assist Unit 133, and, likely, he may even have been appointed to head it.
If Hamas is also involved in the attack, in our assessment, the Hamas activity was led by Saleh al-Arouri together with Hamas’ military headquarters in Sidon (the Aref Center), which is supported by Hamas’ “Construction Bureau”:
Saleh al-Arouri is deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau and responsible for all of Hamas’ activities in the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria. Al-Arouri is the most senior figure of Hamas, who lives in Lebanon and has been active in Lebanon since he was expelled from Turkey and Qatar under pressure from Israel and the United States.
Al-Arouri is known for his good relations with Hezbollah. He concentrates his efforts on two axes. The first is establishing a strong Hamas infrastructure within the Palestinian Authority that will work to overthrow the regime of Mahmoud Abbas and carry out terrorist activities against Israel. The second is the transfer of the center of gravity of Hamas’ political bureau from Qatar to Lebanon(where Ismail Haniya, head of Hamas’ political bureau, currently sits).
The departments of the Construction Bureau, which are responsible for building and developing military capabilities for Hamas in Lebanon, support Hamas’ operational activities in Lebanon. Hamas operates two operational units in Lebanon: the “Al-Shamali” and the “Khaled Ali” units. These units are composed of a few hundred Palestinian operatives who undergo various courses such as assembling and detonating IEDs, an anti-tank course (with an emphasis on firing a Kornet missile), intelligence gathering, snipers, urban warfare, flying UAVs, driving, squad commanders, aeronautics, naval diving and more.
In our assessment, if Hamas is responsible/complicit in the attack, it is possible that one of the operatives of its operational units in Lebanon carried it out.
Note – For a special report on Hamas’ infrastructure and activity in Lebanon, see the link:
IRGC – Quds Force – Palestine Branch: Support for Hezbollah and Hamas’ military activities:
The Palestine Branch, which operates within the framework of the Quds Force, is responsible for maintaining the continuous contact between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the terrorist organizations that are constantly fighting against Israel (Hezbollah, PIJ, and Hamas). In addition, the Branch is responsible for supporting them financially and professionally (knowledge and means).
The branch is headed by Mohammed Said Izadi, known as Haj Ramadan. Izdi is a 58-year-old Iranian living also in Lebanon and regularly moves on the Iran-Syria-Lebanon route. Under Izdi’s command, we are familiar with three other senior Iranian figures in the Palestine branch who are involved in training, operations, and assistance to the Palestinian organizations: first, Ali Marshad Shirazi, aka “Abu Javad,” born in 1969, lives and works in Lebanon. The other, Majid Zaree, aka “Abu Ruqayyah,” born in 1977. The third, Mostafa Majid Khani (aka Haj Majid), born in 1961, is involved in training and instruction.
As of this writing, neither Hezbollah nor Hamas (or PIJ) has taken responsibility and may not take responsibility for the attack. This preserves ambiguity and enables a lower Israeli response that will not necessarily lead to war. On March 14, an organization whose identity is unclear, with an ostensibly Palestinian orientation, calling itself the “Lone Wolf-Galilee Forces,” released a video claiming responsibility for planting the IED. In our assessment, this is not a serious or authentic claim And it is a deception.
Based on an analysis of the findings (the outline of the operation, the identity of the terrorist and potential accomplice, the composition of the IED, etc.), security officials will be able to identify those responsible for the attack. Hezbollah is likely responsible.
The current attack is a leap forward and, in fact, deviates greatly from the “rules of the game” and “equations” created vis-à-vis the Lebanese arena. A ground incursion into Israeli territory to carry out a terrorist attack has not occurred since 2006. The operational and cognitive significance of a ground incursion deep into Israeli territory is greater than the significance of the occasional firing of rockets or flying a UAV into Israeli territory.
As of the summer of 2022, we notice a change in Hezbollah’s doctrine. Hezbollah is willing to manage risks vis-à-vis Israel to the point of risking deterioration into war. The political/social situation in Israel adds to this self-confidence.
Appendix A – Hajj Heli Harb:
Full Name: Khalil Yusuf Harb (خليل يوسف حرب)
Nickname: Abu-Mustafa (أبو مصطفى) | Named after his eldest son Mustafa Khalil Harb (مصطفى خليل حرب)
- Al-Hajj Yatqad Khalil Harb (الحاج يعتقاد خليل حرب)
- Sayed Ahmad (سيد أحمد)
(It should be noted that according to official international sources, other names by which Khalil Harb is called are “Mustafa Khalil Harb” and “Abu-Mustafa”; our examination revealed findings that it is possible to establish with a great degree of confidence that Mustafa is his son’s name, and therefore Khalil Harb’s second name is Abu-Mustafa)
Date of birth: 09.10.1958
Father’s Name: Yusef Harb (يوسف حرب)
Mother’s name: Agent Patuni (سكنه فتوني)
Sisters: Zahra Harb (زهرة حرب), Khadija Harb (خديجه حرب)
Personal Status: Married to Amira Rahal (أميرة رحال)
Family home address: Khirbet Selm, Bint Jbeil, Al-Nabatiyeh, Lebanon 97