x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Netanyahu accuses Iran of attacks in India and Georgia

Iran rejects Israeli prime minister claims of targeting Israeli diplomats with car bombs as "lies".

Indian security and forensic officials examine a car belonging to the Israel embassy after an explosion in New Delhi.
Indian security and forensic officials examine a car belonging to the Israel embassy after an explosion in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI // Israel’s prime minister yesterday accused Iran of targeting Israeli diplomats with car bombs after an explosion in New Delhi injured four people, including an Israeli diplomat, and another device found underneath a car at Israel’s embassy in Georgia was defused.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, told members of his Likud Party in Jerusalem yesterday that “today we witnessed two attempts of terrorism against innocent civilians”.

“Iran, who stands behind these attacks, is the largest terror exporter in the world,” he said.

Iran’s ambassador to India rejected Mr Netanyahu’s accusation as “lies”.

“We condemn any terrorist attack and strongly reject unrealistic charges by an official of the Zionist regime,” said Mahdi Nabizadeh, according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel had thwarted other attacks in recent months in Azerbaijan, Thailand and elsewhere.

“In all those cases, the elements behind these attacks were Iran and its protégé Hizbollah,” he said.

Iran has accused Israel of involvement in a series of killings of officials and scientists involved in its nuclear programme.

The method used in the Delhi and Georgia attacks is similar to that of the assassins who have been targeting Iranian nuclear scientists with magnetic bombs placed on their cars.

Yesterday’s attacks took place a day after the anniversary of the death of the deputy leader of Hizbollah, Imad Mughniyah, who was killed in a car bombing in Damascus on February 12, 2008.

His death was blamed on Israel and sparked vows of revenge from the Shiite militia group.

In the New Delhi blast, a 42-year-old female Israeli diplomat, identified as Tal Yehoshua Koren, was on her way to pick up her children from the American School from the heavily guarded Diplomatic Enclave, when a man on a motorcycle attached a metallic device to the rear of her car at a traffic stop. Mrs Koren is the wife of the Israeli defence attache in Delhi and sustained shrapnel injuries to her spine and liver, authorities said.

The explosion ripped through the car and injured two more people in a car behind her vehicle. The injured, including Mrs Koren, were pulled out of their cars by people nearby, Rajan Bhagat, the New Delhi police commissioner, said at a press conference last night.
The diplomat is in a “stable condition, she is conscious,” Mr Bhagat said. “We are examining the materials at the site and we are yet to get the experts’ report so we still cannot say how the blast occurred.”

In Tbilisi, Georgia, 3,700 kilometres from Delhi, an embassy employee found a suspicious device in his car and contacted police who were able to defuse the bomb before it went off.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said Israel was “co-operating with the local law enforcement agencies” in New Delhi and Tbilisi.

After the blast, Delhi was placed on high alert with extra security outside western embassies, including that of the United States, and security was increased at local markets popular with expatriates.

The Indian foreign minister, SM Krishna, said he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman. “I have assured him that the law of the land will take its course ... we will keep him posted on the progress in the investigation,” Mr Krishna said.

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae

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* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press