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Israel fears embassy attacks start of terror wave: press

Feb. 14, 2012 - 21:02 By
(AFP) - Israel's press on Tuesday said the attacks on embassy staff in India and Georgia, which were blamed on Iran, were unlikely to spark a major response but raised fears they were the start of a wave of attacks.

Monday's bomb attacks targeted an embassy car in New Delhi, leaving an Israeli woman diplomat critically injured, while the second incident targeted an embassy car in Tbilisi, but the bomb was discovered and defused.

Israel immediately blamed Iran and its Lebanese "proxy" Hezbollah, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to act "with a firm hand" to eradicate "international terror coming from Iran."

But press commentators said Israel was unlikely to respond harshly to the attacks, although the attempted bombings were widely viewed as the start of a wave of attacks against Israeli targets overseas.

"The bombings sparked the usual tough rhetoric from Israeli officials ... Nevertheless, a harsh Israeli response is seen as unlikely," the left-leaning Haaretz daily said.

"Monday's attacks were still limited enough that they didn't violate the 'rules of the game,'" the paper said, indicating that the bombings may have been an attempt to avenge the assassination of four Iranian scientists over the past two years, which were widely blamed on Israel.
Indian security and forensic officials examine a car belonging to the Israel Embassy after an explosion that injured two people in New Delhi, India, Monday. (AP-Yonhap News)

"If, as is widely believed, Israel is behind a recent series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists in Tehran, government officials presumably knew that Iranian revenge attacks were likely and took that possibility into account," it said, noting that both incidents involved "relatively low-level targets" and only succeeded in causing few casualties.

"Israel is not about to go to war over the bombing of a diplomatic car in New Delhi and an attempted bombing in Tbilisi," the Jerusalem Post said. 

"But if Iran and Hezbollah continue their efforts and succeed in perpetrating a large attack producing greater casualties and devastation, the government will have a difficult time holding itself back."

Many papers suggested the attacks, which followed on from several failed attempts against Israeli targets in Azerbaijan and Thailand over the past few months, were only the start of a wave of attempts targeting Israelis overseas.

"Israel views both terror attacks yesterday as part of a surging wave of terror attacks," wrote Alex Fishman, military commentator for the top-selling Yediot Aharonot. 

"It is unlikely that the Iranian intelligence officer in Tehran who is responsible for organising this wave will win a promotion for his achievements so far," he wrote.

"But the existence of this wave means that there are additional terror cells out there in other places on the planet, which are continuing to seek an Israeli target. The order given to make every effort to get Israel to stop killing Iranian scientists has already been issued, and these attempted terror attack will continue."

The method used in Monday's attacks resembled the tactics of assassins who have been targeting Iranian nuclear scientists, by attaching magnetic bombs to their vehicles.

Three scientists and a physicist have been killed in the past two years in murders blamed by Iran on Israeli and US secret services.

The bomb attacks also also fell between anniversaries of the deaths of two top Hezbollah militants, Imad Mughniyeh and Abbas Mussawi, which spark annual travel warnings from the Israeli government.

The deaths of both men were blamed on Israel and sparked vows of revenge from Hezbollah, which has close ties with Iran.