Netanyahu denies claims of assassination attempt against him during visit to Kenya

Kenyan police dismiss reports of attempt on Israeli prime minister’s life as ‘lies’

Gabriel Samuels
Thursday 07 July 2016 19:00
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during his visit to Kenya this week
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during his visit to Kenya this week

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been forced to deny reports claiming two men tried to assassinate him during a tour of Kenya this week.

Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida claimed Kenyan security forces rushed to stop attackers attempting to target the prime minister’s convoy during his five-day state visit to the African continent.

The report said Mr Netanyahu’s security guards were advised to change the route of the convoy, and said police had arrested two suspects shortly after the incident.

"After the convoy changed its course and arrived in a safe hotel, it was discovered that Kenyan intelligence had exposed a plan to attack vehicles in the original course. Thus, the decision to change the course saved the Israeli delegation," an anonymous source told the newspaper.

Mr Netanyahu quickly dismissed the claims and said he knew “nothing” of such an incident taking place during a press conference alongside Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Thursday.

Looking visibly surprised at the reporter’s question, he told journalists: “The answer is we know nothing about it because there is nothing in it.”

The claims were also denied by Kenyan officials, with interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka telling Associated Press: “An attempted assassination can't be secret. It has to be something visible, and to my knowledge there was absolutely nothing of the sort.”

Kenya’s chief of police Joseph Boinnet added: “I’m not aware, and there was no such thing at all. Those are lies.”

Mr Netanyahu’s visit is the first to sub-Saharan Africa by an Israeli prime minister for nearly 30 years, travelling between Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia.

The Prime Minister is always protected by heavy security when he goes abroad, given continual high threats against Israeli targets around the world.

Following the press conference Mr Netanyahu and Mr Desalegn said they would renew cooperation in the fight against extremism, and they signed agreements to increase ties in technology, agriculture and more.

"Israel has a special place in Ethiopia and Ethiopia has a special place in Israel," Netanyahu said.

As many as 130,000 Ethiopian Jews, called Falashas, are thought to live in Israel, having emigrated there since the 1980s.

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