Israel Raises State of Alert After Attacks on Diplomats in India, Georgia
Israeli police elevated alerts across the country following assaults against diplomats in India and Georgia, while Defense Minister Ehud Barak said a botched grenade attack in Thailand bolstered the case for blaming Iran.
Police will emphasize heightened “security awareness” in public places throughout Israel, focusing on foreign embassies, tourist sites and airports, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said today in a phone interview. Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson declined to comment on security at embassies abroad.
Iran denied any connection to the bombing of an embassy vehicle in New Delhi that injured an Israeli diplomat’s wife yesterday and a bomb planted under an Israeli diplomatic car in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi that was discovered before it could be detonated. Barak, visiting Singapore, pointed to the injuring of an Iranian by his own grenade in Thailand today, saying that terrorism linked to Iran is spreading.
“The attempted terrorist attack in Bangkok proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror,” Barak said in comments e-mailed by his office. He said Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah organization it backs are “unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region and endangering the stability of the world.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of parliament yesterday that Israel will “act methodically” against Iranian-backed terrorism.
The incidents today and yesterday follow a series of deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists, which the government blamed on Israel. They also come during the week marking the fourth anniversary of the 2008 car-bomb death of Hezbollah security chief Imad Mughniyeh, which the group has blamed on Israel. Hezbollah, a Shiite political party, is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the U.S.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said allegations against his country are part of an Israeli “propaganda war,” Press TV reported.
“We categorically reject the accusations made by the Zionist regime,” Mehmanparast said, according to a report published on the state-run news channel’s website today. His comments were made before news about the attack in Thailand was reported.
Israel’s benchmark TA-25 index fell for a second day this week, retreating 0.6 percent to 1,112.64.
Indian and Georgian authorities said they were trying to determine who was behind the attacks, which were condemned by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said it was too early to assume terrorists were to blame for today’s blasts and urged the public not to panic.
The Iranian man was injured by his own grenade as he and two other sought to escape arrest following an explosion at their rented Bangkok home, according to government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisang. Four others were hurt in the incident.
Police found C-4 explosives in the house the three men were renting, TNN television network reported, without saying where it got the information.
Thai police last month charged a Swedish-Lebanese man they said was linked to Hezbollah with possessing illegal substances after detaining him in connection with a plan to attack sites frequented by Americans and Israelis.
The bomb in New Delhi exploded about 500 meters (1,640 feet) from Israel’s embassy, injuring the wife of an Israeli diplomat and her Indian driver, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
The attack was carried out by somebody who had been “well trained,” India’s Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told reporters today. The government is not “pointing the finger” at any group as its investigation is continuing, he said.
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