Politics Reporter Mati Maravanyika examines a new wave of conflict between Iran and Israel following terror plots
Last week, a series of terror attacks targeted at Israeli diplomats in India and Thailand ensued, as well as a failed attempt in Georgia. On February 13, Monday afternoon, a vehicle belonging to the Israeli embassy was bombed, injuring the driver, an embassy official and two passengers in a car following closely behind. The bomb detonated in New Delhi, in close proximity to the Prime Minister’s residence.
Similarly, hours before the New Delhi blast, there was a plot in the Tbilisi outside the Israeli embassy, where officials were able to diffuse a bomb attached to an Israeli embassy vehicle hours before the Delhi blast. The terror attacks have occurred amidst a raging war and rising tensions between Iran and Israel. Iran is looking to avenge the assassinations of five of its nuclear scientists at the hands of Israel. Israel sees Iran’s controversial nuclear program as a potential threat and has threatened to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.
In Bangkok, three Iranian suspects caught by closed-circuit cameras carrying explosives were detained for planning terror attacks targeted towards Israeli diplomats. The similarity of the bombs used in the New Delhi blast and the terror attempt in Tbilisi has led General Prewpan Dhamapong, national police chief, to the conclusion “that [the target] was Israeli diplomats.” He added, “this issue was about individuals and the targets were specific. This was something personal.”
The three suspects are 28-year-old Saeid Moradi, whose legs were blown off by his own bomb, 42-year-old Mohammad Hazaei, who was arrested when attempting to board a plane to Malaysia and 31-year-old Masoud Sedaghatzadeh who was taken into custody on Wednesday 15 in Kuala Lumpur by Malaysian officials. Rohani Leila, the fourth suspect who alledgedly rented the house where the first bomb accidentally detonated, has gone into hiding.[pullquote]It’s clearer to more and more of the world that Iran, which is a veteran sponsor of terror, is trying to raise the bar even more[/pullquote]
According to investigators, a motorcyclist in New Delhi waiting at a red light is believed to have used a magnetic gadget to place an explosive at the rear end of the embassy vehicle, causing it to erupt in flames seconds later. Additionally, there was no camera-coverage of the incident, making it difficult to obtain the motorcycle’s registration number. Tel Aviv has blamed Iran for what it believes to be a terror attack, though B K Gupta, chief of Delhi Police has yet to confirm this and states that a connection between Iran and the New Delhi explosion has not yet been established.
The attack occurred a day after the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Imad Moughniyeh, the former deputy leader of Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group based in Lebanon. Moughniyeh was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria on February 12 2008 and Hezbollah has publicised the fact that it blames Tel Aviv for its leader’s death. Because Hezbollah is funded and supported by Iran, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has described Iran as the “greatest exporter of terror in the world.” Netanyahu states that there have been many attacks against Israelis and Jews around the world, and “the elements behind the attacks were Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah.”
Ehud Barak, Israeli defense minister agrees with Netanyahu, stating that “it’s clearer to more and more of the world that Iran, which is a veteran sponsor of terror, is trying to raise the bar even more, trying to harm diplomats around the world.” Shin Bet, head of the Israeli internal intelligence service claims that in the last month, several Iranian attacks on Israelis in Thailand, Turkey and Azerbaijan were thwarted by his agency.
On Thursday 16, in a televised address, head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, denied any involvement in the attacks, saying, “we are not afraid to say that we had nothing to do with these explosions.” He stated that “the blood of Imad Mogniyeh will always haunt the Israelis,” but added that it was “quite insulting to accuse Hezbollah of plans to kill average Israeli civilians in retaliation of killing our leaders.” He continued, “those who we will take our revenge from know themselves very well and they will need to keep taking precautions for their safety.”
Iran’s state-run Press TV website has claimed that the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, “condemned the blasts and said that Israeli agents are often the perpetrators of such terrorist acts.”