The Palestinian security forces have thwarted a major terrorist attack, which involved placing a high-powered explosive on Highway 443 to be detonated in the wake of a convoy of Israeli soldiers, according to a report in the daily Yediot Aharonot.

The aim of the attack was to sabotage efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and the Islamic terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

The powerful bomb was found on the side of the road between the Palestinian towns of Beit Liqya and Beit Anan, south of Route 443, in Area C, under Israeli control, in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) convoys frequently travel on this road to conduct military operations in Palestinian towns, such as night-time arrests of suspected terrorists.

The device was assembled with two gas cylinders contained a large number of nails and was attached to an explosive device.

The bomb was discovered by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces and dismantled by a unit of Palestinian engineers.

According to Israeli officials, quoted by the newspaper, Israeli security forces were immediately warned of the discovery of the device.

The incident is under investigation and it is suspected that the methods used in the attempted attack are similar to those used by the Lebanese Shia terrorist group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the report said.

In Beit Liqya, there are a small number of activists affiliated with Islamic Jihad, but efforts are under way to determine the possibility that Hezbollah members may have been responsible for the bombing.

The hypothesis is that those who planted the bomb intended to detonate it in the foreseeable future to derail the negotiations between Israel and Hamas and to drag both sides into a new escalation.

The size of the bomb suggests that the attack was intended to cause a large number of casualties.

This is the second time that the Palestinian security apparatus has discovered a bomb planted on the road with the intention of being detonated in the path of Israeli forces.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Security Forces discovered 12 rows of bombs planted along a route in the Tul Karem area between the Palestinian towns of Attil and Illar in Area A of the West Bank, under the full control of the PA.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Lieberman
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman Lieberman (Facebook)

Lieberman noted that in recent days, hundreds, if not thousands, of trucks have passed through the Kerem Shalom border crossing every day since it was reopened “because there was absolute calm.

Anyone who tries to disrupt the prevailing tranquility, he stressed, must understand that he or she will only drive back to the closure of the border crossing.

However, the Minister of Defense again insisted that there was little point in holding talks with Hamas.

“The fundamental objective of the Hamas terrorist organization is the destruction of the State of Israel, and that’s why I don’t think we have anything to talk about with Hamas,” Lieberman said.

“We are in talks about this via Egypt and via third parties and Hamas understands that. There will be no progress and no new arrangements beyond the border crossings and fishing areas until a solution is reached on the issue of the soldiers and the captive civilians,” Lieberman said, referring to two fallen Israeli soldiers whose bodies are in Hamas hands and two civilians also held in the Strip.

“We must make Hamas understand that if they want to make progress in any area, the first thing they need to realize is that our missing soldiers and civilian must be returned.