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Israel Accuses Iran as Wave of Bombings Hits India, Georgia, and Thailand

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Police and forensic officials examine a damaged Israeli embassy car after an explosion in New Delhi February 13, 2012. Bombers targeted staff at Israel's embassies in India and Georgia on Monday, the foreign ministry said, with a bomb going off in New Delhi while a second device in Tbilisi was defused.  (REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma)A succession of bombing attempts in several countries beyond Iranian and Israeli borders has stoked the already growing tensions between the two countries.

In New Delhi, the wife of an Israeli official and an employee at the Israeli embassy in the Indian capital was injured in a car bombing. Eyewitnesses allege a magnetic bomb detonated after being attached to the vehicle, leaving Tal Yehoshua Koren, her driver, and two others injured. The explosion took place in the late afternoon on Monday, according to multiple news sources. Yehoshua Koren was taken to a nearby American hospital, where she was treated for shrapnel wounds.

Earlier Monday afternoon, a bomb was defused in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital. An employee affiliated with the Israeli embassy in the Eastern European nation’s capital heard a strange noise when he ignited his vehicle, according to the media, and scoured the car until discovering an explosive device. The bomb was safely neutralized, and no damage or injuries were incurred in the aftermath.

On Tuesday, another explosion was reported in Bangkok. An Iranian man left his home and hurled a grenade at a cab which did not stop for him, badly damaging the vehicle. He then proceeded to hoist another grenade at approaching police officers, failed, and injured himself in the process. Police officers who later investigated the scene found the man’s home stocked with explosives. An Iranian passport identified him as Saeid Moradi; a number of passersby were also wounded in the fray.

These latest incidents have sparked increasing debate into the Iranian-Israeli conflict. Israeli officials contend these latest bombing attempts are part and parcel of covert operations led by Iran and their terrorist operatives.

“In recent months, we have witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries, including Azerbaijan, Thailand and others,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told members of his Likud party on Monday. “In each instance, we succeeded in foiling the attacks in cooperation with local authorities. Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, were behind all of these [latest] attempted attacks.”

Some believe the latest incidences were retaliatory strikes against Israel, who was widely believed to have taken an active role in the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist this past month. Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan allegedly played a pivotal role in operations at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, and his death was largely perceived as a covert hit orchestrated by Israel and the West. The eerie similarities between the earlier bombing in Tehran and the latest in New Delhi have been cited by Israeli authorities to substantiate their claims.

Roshan was traveling to work in the early morning on January 11 when two motorcyclists slapped a magnetic bomb on his passenger door. The bomb detonated instantly, leaving the scientist dead and two others injured. Authorities believe Roshan, who also taught at a university in Tehran, was scheduled to attend a memorial later that day to commemorate the death of his former colleague, Massoud Ali Mohammadi, exactly two years ago.

Killing on the day of anniversary has been used to convey an unequivocal message, and this approach has also featured prominently in the latest attacks. February 12, 2012 marked the fourth anniversary of the suspect death of Imad Mughniyeh of Hezbollah, a commander who was assassinated by what was believed to be an Israeli operation. For this reason, a number of Israeli officials were cautioned on Monday, before and after the incidences. Coming a day after the anniversary, Israelis have spared little in pointing fingers at Tehran.

“[This] proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to perpetrate terror,” Israel defense minister Ehud Barak told the media in Singapore.
“This is part of the covert war between the two sides,” explained Shlomo Brom of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. “The secret war is a separate playing field and is not something new.”

Iran has, surprisingly, accused Israel of perpetrating crimes against its own people. According to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, “Israeli attacks” were conducted to wage “psychological warfare against Iran” by “[tarnishing its] friendly ties with the host countries.” The ongoing debate has served to aggravate tensions between both sides, whose antagonism has translated into international anxiety at the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon, and, as of late, a preemptive attack by the Israelis on Iranian soil.

The covert operations are one prong among the expansive plan waged by the West to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. While Iran persistently claims its nuclear plans have peaceful energy purposes, the West remains highly skeptical and has called for the regime to end its uranium enrichment. Tehran has ardently refused, and its resiliency has elicited international condemnation and a series of measures to break down the regime, both internally and externally.

In terms of internal intrusion, the West has largely undertaken a program aimed at eliminating essential components of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. A computer worm, Stuxnet, was used to undercut uranium enrichment efforts in 2010, and the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists has grown increasingly prominent lately; Roshan was the fifth relevant employee to be targeted in two years. Another method employed has been to strengthen the Iranian opposition; some believe the only feasible approach to ending Iranian nuclear proliferation is to change the regime internally, since people with radical ideologies will inevitably achieve their ends, no matter the scale or scope of Western military intervention.

In the international community, the U.S. and Israel have assembled sizable support in their economic sanctions efforts. This approach has reaped benefits, according to media sources, but critics have pointed out the poorly gradual quality of such an approach. Sanctions need time to take effect, they say, and the urgency of the Iranian issue does not warrant such waiting. Iran has succeeded in discovering a market for its oil despite the largely international boycott; India recently declared its intent to visit Tehran later this month to explore business options now available in lieu of international competition. This could explain Iran’s supposition that the latest attack were perpetrated to sever what have become “friendly ties” between New Delhi, for example, and Tehran.

While sanctions and covert operations have been mentioned regularly in the media as of late, no issue has grabbed greater attention than the question of whether, or when, Israeli will launch an attack on Iran. Rumors the regime may be approaching a point of “immunity,” where the military option will no longer be available, have given the talks an air of exigency. In addition, the media has noted the critical period in which Israel now finds itself, as a presidential race speedily approaches in the U.S. Considering the political dynamic which arrives as the election nears, Jerusalem sees the window of opportunity for an Iranian preemptive assault growing increasingly narrow.

Some have suggested the latest attacks in Tbilisi, New Delhi, and Bangkok, may inspire the Israelis to finally take action. Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch delivered an ominous warning that Israel would seek retribution.

“We know who carried out the terror attacks, we know who sent them, and Israel will settle the score with them,” he said on Israel Radio Tuesday.

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