Israeli Embassy attacks – What do they mean?

Israeli Embassy attacks - What do they mean?

As was widely reported, Israeli embassy personnel were attacked in Georgia and India yesterday.

In the first attack, Tal Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry official and an employee of the embassy in India was wounded when a bomb exploded in her car. Yehoshua-Koren was being operated on for spinal injuries as shrapnel had penetrated her spine and liver. Three other people injured in the blast, the car’s driver and two occupants of a nearby car, were also being treated for injuries. Eyewitnesses said a motorcyclist drove to the car and attached a magnetic device to the back of the vehicle.

In the second attack, an embassy staffer in Tbilisi discovered a bomb underneath his car as he was driving to the embassy on February 13. The staffer – a local Georgian – heard something while driving, pulled over to the side of the road, noticed the bomb and called local authorities. The bomb was defused before it exploded.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of being responsible for the attacks, which occurred one day after the fourth anniversary of the killing of a senior Hezbollah official, Imad Mughniyeh. Both Hezbollah and Iran have blamed Israel for Mughniyeh’s assassination, and Hezbollah has repeatedly sworn revenge.

The attacks also resemble those that have killed five of Iran’s nuclear scientists. Iran has blamed Israel for the assassinations and has vowed to take revenge. The scientists’ assassinations along with sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program through cyberwarfare aimed at delaying Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran has denied being involved in the attacks, with the Iranian ambassador to India terming Netanyahu’s accusation “nothing but lies.” Instead, Iran has accused Israel of launching the attacks against its embassies in New Dehli and Tbilisi in order to “tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries”.

However, Israel maintains that the accusation against Iran is backed by both intelligence information and evidence collected at the scene of both crimes, particularly an examination of the bomb that was defused in Tbilisi.

Netanyahu said, “Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world,” after noting that “Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah” were behind several previous “attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries” in recent months.

In recent years a number of attacks against the Israeli embassies in Azerbaijan and Bangkok, an Israeli airliner in Turkey and Israeli tourists in the Sinai peninsula – have been thwarted.

There are also reports Israel is concerned the latest attacks in India and Georgia are only the beginning and Hezbollah is plotting additional attacks that could be launched in the coming days.

Good analysis of what the attacks likely mean come from:

  • Yaacov Katz’s article in the Jerusalem Post “Analysis: Was this an at of war?” which discusses whether Israel should respond to the attacks.
  • Harvard law professor “>Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post suggests this is likely a sign the Iranian government is getting desperate. 
  • timeline of recent Hezbollah plots on Israel.