Israel threatens a 'heavy price' for Iran after deadly Bulgaria bus bomb

Mr Netanyahu went out of his way to link the attack with Tehran's nuclear ambitions

Jerusalem

Israel yesterday fuelled fears of a further escalation in the already high tensions with Iran by promising to "exact a heavy price" from the perpetrators of the suicide bombing which killed seven people in Bulgaria, which it blamed unequivocally on Hezbollah.

As Bulgarian officials said the suspected bomber in the attack on Wednesday that killed five Israeli holidaymakers was a lanky, long-haired man in a baseball cap and T-shirt, carrying a fake American driving licence, Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said it had been carried out by "Hezbollah, the long arm of Iran."

There was some doubt about Bulgarian media reports that named the suicide attacker as Mehdi Ghazali, a former detainee at the US-run detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay. Mr Ghazali, who is of Algerian-Finnish origin, is said to have studied at a British mosque, and to have travelled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Continuing to blame Iran, under whose direct orders Israel is convinced Hezbollah acts in its operations outside Lebanon, Mr Netanyhau went out of his way to link the attack at the Black Sea resort of Burgas with Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"The time has come for all countries that know the truth to speak it," he said. "Iran is the one behind the wave of terror. Iran is the No 1 exporter of terror in the world. A terrorist state must not have a nuclear weapon. The most dangerous country in the world must not possess the most dangerous weapon on earth."

Mr Netanyahu said that for more than a year, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party, had been conducting "a global terror campaign that crosses continents and borders, listing 10 countries, including the US, in which they had operated.

The Prime Minister pledged that Israel would "continue to pursue the attackers and exact a heavy price from those who sent them."

The categorical accusation against Hezbollah and Iran was in sharp contrast to Bulgaria's reluctance to apportion immediate blame for the airport attack in which the bus driver, as well as the bomber, was killed.

The Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, said that he thought "it is wrong and a mistake to point fingers at this stage of the investigation at any country or organisation."

Iran denied that it was responsible, saying that it was itself a target of terrorism, all forms of which it said it condemned.

Ramin Mehmanparast, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Tehran declared that "terrorism endangers the lives of innocents."

The Bulgarian authorities posted an airport video showing the bomber, with pale skin and long red hair, and who the Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said had been carrying a fake Michigan driving licence, wandering into the arrivals hall of the airport, looking around and wandering out again. He is seen carrying an unusually large back pack which witnesses said contained the bomb.

Investigators have established that he had either turned towards the bus when he blew it up or pretended to be one of the passengers.

"He either had turned with his backpack toward the bus when he exploded it or pretended he was simply a normal passenger making to store in the baggage compartment when it exploded," said Mr Tsvetanov.

As the dead and injured, at least five critically so, were being airlifted back to Israel, the Bulgaria attack was being discussed by senior Israeli security officials already exercised by the separate possibility that parts of a Syrian arsenal of chemical weapons might be transferred to Hezbollah by the increasingly embattled Damascus regime.

Meanwhile, Meir Javedanfar, an Iran analyst at Israel's Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, expressed doubts about apportioning blame for the Bulgaria bombing before a full investigation bore fruit, pointing out that al-Qai'da had been held responsible for an attacking targeting Israel in Kenya in 2002.

But Mr Javedanfar said if Israel's government really had solid intelligence that Hezbollah had been responsible for the bombing then it would have been under Iran's aegis, and Iran "would have made a very big mistake by doing this on European Union soil.

"It would mean that Iran's hopes of an easing of sanctions by the EU would become more distant if it was Iran's responsibility."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: EWI / IWI Installer

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'