Israel will not rush into war with Iran or Hezbollah despite government blaming 'Iranian terror' for Bulgarian bomb attack

 

Israel today signalled it would not rush into any open conflict with Iran or its Lebanese guerrilla ally Hezbollah despite blaming them for a deadly attack on its citizens in Bulgaria.

A suicide bomber killed himself, five Israelis and a Bulgarian driver on a tourist bus in Burgas airport on yesterday. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly promised to "react powerfully" to what he called "Iranian terror".

Sofia officials have yet to say publicly who they think organised the attack and Iran dismissed as unfounded Israel's accusations that it had played a role. The bomber was said to have been 36 years old and Bulgarian authorities were trying to identify him from DNA samples taken from his remains.

In a statement, the Iranian embassy in Bulgaria said Israel's charges were "a familiar method of the Zionist regime, with a political aim, and is a sign of the weakness ... of the accusers".

Hezbollah has not commented on the bombing.

Israel's allegation, based on suspicions that Iranian and Hezbollah agents have been trying for years to score a lethal strike on its interests abroad, triggered speculation in local media that the Netanyahu government might now hit back hard.

The Israelis have long threatened to resort to military force to curb Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, but Defence Minister Ehud Barak sounded more restrained on Thursday about a response to the Bulgaria attack.

Speaking on Israel Radio, he said the country would "do everything possible in order to find those responsible, and those who dispatched them, and punish them" - language that appeared to suggest covert action against individuals.

President Shimon Peres said on his Facebook page that Israel would "take action in every terror nest, worldwide. It has the means to do so, and we are determined to act in this spirit."

Israel may be reluctant to cross Western partners by rushing into a full-on confrontation which would stretch its military capabilities and possibly draw Iranian escalation against U.S. targets in the Gulf and disruptions of the global oil supply.

A clash with Hezbollah, which the Israeli military says has stockpiled as many as 80,000 rockets in south Lebanon, carries the risk of igniting that frontier at a time when the Netanyahu government is worried about turmoil in neighbouring Syria.

Giora Eiland, a retired Israeli army general who served as national security adviser from 2003 to 2006, played down the prospects of the Bulgaria bombing spilling over into war.

"I think that any response, whatever it may be, will not be an immediate response," Eiland told Israel Radio separately.

"Any response, whatever it may be, will not be in the form of an air force operation, or strike - certainly not in Iran over this matter, nor in Lebanon."

Barak, whose remarks focused on Hezbollah's alleged role in the Bulgaria bombing, described it as the most devastating of a series of recent plots against Israelis, including diplomats.

Some analysts believe Iran is trying to avenge the assassination of scientists from its nuclear programme, which it blamed on Israel and Western allies. Iran says its atomic ambitions are peaceful, denying foreign charges of secret military designs.

Hezbollah has its own scores to settle with Israel. Two years after their 2006 border war, the Lebanese Shi'ite militia lost its commander, Imad Moughniyeh, to a Damascus car bomb it said was the work of Israeli spies, and vowed revenge.

Netanyahu's national security adviser from 2009 to 2011, Uzi Arad, confirmed that Israel killed Moughniyeh - though the country has never formally claimed responsibility for his death nor those of the Iranian scientists.

Speaking to Israel's Army Radio, Arad described the Bulgaria bombing as part of a "dynamic of escalation" but counselled the Netanyahu government to invest in better intelligence and security cooperation with foreign partners.

He said "risk management" was required and that Wednesday's bloodshed may be an "unavoidable price" of the internal and international pressure building on Iran and its allies.

Reuters

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

CRM Data Analyst – Part time – Permanent – Surrey – Circa £28,000 pro rata

£15000 - £16800 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Mechanical Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A key client in the East Midlands are re...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...

Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice