London bears witness to attacks on Israeli targets: Charles Richards, Middle East Editor, on the long line of terrorist assaults in the capital

THE ATTACK on the Israeli embassy yesterday was the latest in a long line of assaults on Israeli targets in London over the years.

In 1972, at the height of Middle East terrorism on the streets of Europe, the agricultural attache at the Israeli embassy was killed by a letter bomb.

Ten years later came the attempted assassination of Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador. The gunman was from the extremist Palestinian faction of Abu Nidal and he was run by the Iraqi military attache. The bullet from a pistol lodged in the ambassador's brain and although he survived, he remains paralysed. The shooting was the spur for Israel to invade Lebanon.

In 1986, Nizar Hendawi a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, tried to smuggle a bomb on to an El Al jumbo jet flying out of Heathrow by giving a primed suitcase to Ann Murphy, his pregnant Irish girlfriend.

All these attacks were perpetrated by Palestinian nationalists. In recent years however, Israel has been pointing the finger at Islamic extremists as the main scourge. Yesterday the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, asserted in Washington: 'There is no doubt in my mind that we face a wave of extreme Islamic radical terrorist movements in the Arab Muslim countries.

'They have the infrastructure all over the world - in the United States, in Europe, in Latin America,' he added, citing Hizbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

'They continue a struggle of terror to kill Israelis, to fight against moderate Arab regimes, and to do everything to undermine any possibility to continue with the peace process to bring about a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbouring Arab countries and the Palestinians.'

He mentioned the bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 26 February 1993, saying: 'You can never know what will be the next target of these terrible extreme terror movements.'

In the Seventies, most of the terrorism was by radical Arab regimes or groups against moderates or dissidents. Said Hammami, one of the first Palestinian proponents of peaceful co-existence between Palestinians and Israelis, was killed in London. Libyan and Iraqi opponents of their respective regimes were murdered on the streets of London. The siege of the Iranian embassy was carried out by Iraqi agents and it was shots fired from inside the Libyan embassy which claimed the life of Constable Yvonne Fletcher.

Scottish police have still not managed to bring to justice the two Libyan agents accused of placing the bomb on board PanAm flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie.

Although this latest attack once again exposes the vulnerability of any democracy to terrorist attacks, in more recent years London has acquired a reputation among Middle Eastern exiles as one of the safer refuges from the long hand of hostile groups and regimes. Many have chosen London because they feel they are afforded better protection than in say France, where they also fear change of policy for sake of political expediency could lead them to be sent home.

That said, the British authorities keep a close eye on the Kurdish terrorist group the PKK, which has been behind several waves of bomb attacks across Europe, and the Iranians.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk