Accidental self-bomber was a Hezbollah member

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JERUSALEM — The man who accidentally blew himself up in an eastern Jerusalem hotel room last month has been identified as a Hezbollah terrorist sent by Iran, apparently to blow up a plane leaving from Ben-Gurion Airport.

It is the first sign that the radical Shiite group in Lebanon, which is armed by Iran, has attempted to launch a terrorist attack deep inside Israel.

A Jerusalem District Court judge last week lifted a ban on publication of details of the investigation, conducted by the Mossad, the Shin Bet domestic security agency, Jerusalem police and several European security services.

"We verified that he was motivated by Iranian money and Iranian officials, who sent him to try and undermine the peace process," Internal Security Minister Moshe Shahal told the Associated Press.

"I think there is more and more evidence about the intensive Iranian activity against the peace process…[and] an attempt to intervene in the elections in Israel," Foreign Ministry Director-General Uri Savir told Army Radio.

Security has been tightened in recent weeks at Ben-Gurion and airports abroad, after it was discovered the suspect, Hassin Makdad, from the village of Faroun in Lebanon, carried explosives with him on at least one flight.

The case for the first time showed direct Iranian involvement and greater complexity in planning bombing attacks, said Anat Kurtz, an expert on terrorism at Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. "There is an element of escalation in this. We are talking about a sophisticated operation," Kurtz told AP.

Makdad is in serious condition at Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem. He lost both legs, one arm and sight in at least one eye.