Israel blames Iran for Bulgaria bombing
Israel points the finger at Tehran for last week's bombing in Burgas, though the Bulgarian government decries the claim
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Family and friends attend the funeral of Itzik Kolengi, 28, who was killed and his wife injured in a suicide bombing in Bulgaria Wednesday in Petah Tikva, Israel
Israel has accused Iran and the Lebanese Shia militia Hizbullah of responsibility for last week's bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, in which seven people -- including six Israelis -- were killed, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told two American television networks that he had "unquestionable" evidence suggesting the attack was the work of Iran and Hizbullah.
However, it seems that Netanyahu didn't really make a careful distinction between the words "evidence" and "suspicion".
Speaking few hours after the incident, Netanyahu gave no specific evidence implicating Iran and the Lebanese Shia group in the suicide attack.
However, he justified his accusations by the fact that the bombing occurred on the anniversary of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina, which was also blamed on Iran. Iran never took responsibility for the bombing.
The Israeli premier told the rightwing network, Fox News, that he was absolutely sure Iran was behind the Burgas bombing.
"This is based on rock solid intelligence and on its resemblance to other recent attempted attacks across the world, including in Cyprus last week. It is the same modus operandi. It is them and we know it."
Speaking earlier during a news conference, Netanyahu said: "Israel will demand a heavy price from those who dispatched the terrorists." He added: "Israel wouldn't be defeated; we will confront Iranian terror with great force."
The more vitriolic Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was even more pugnacious. He accused Iran of being the "world's biggest sponsor of terror", adding that Israel will respond "with force and precision against those who plan and execute such attacks".
"We have no intention to forgive and forget. Hizbullah knows we don't make empty threats," said Lieberman in what could be an allusion to the murderous assassination by Israeli agents of several of the Shia group's political and security leaders.
In 2006, Israel murdered and maimed hundreds of Lebanese civilians on suspicion of affiliation with Hizbullah. Moreover, the Israeli air force dropped 2-3 million cluster-bomblets over southern Lebanon, enough to kill or maim 2-3 million Lebanese civilians.
The Iranians strongly denied the Israeli accusations, arguing that Israel had made many enemies around the world who were waiting to settle scores with the Zionist regime.
"The unfounded claims by Zionist officials with regard to the bombing incident in Bulgaria reflect their confusion and weakness," an Iranian Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying.
Earlier, Iran threatened to "attack the heart of Tel Aviv" if Israel attacked the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities, the Fars News Agency quoted a senior Iranian cleric as saying.
"They don't dare to damage our nuclear centres and know very well that any move against the Islamic Republic will make them regret," said Hojjatolislam Seyed Reza Taqawi.
Israel has been repeatedly warning that it would attack Iranian nuclear facilities unless the world community forced the Islamic Republic to halt uranium enrichment.
Interestingly, Bulgarian officials not only refused to parrot Israeli accusations, but went as far as rebuking Israel for making premature and hasty conclusions about the incident.
Despite the near Israeli certitude about Iran or Hizbullah's responsibility for the Burgas bombing, the Bulgarian authorities have not stated whom they think is responsible.
Bulgaria's foreign minister, Nickolay Mladenov, said last week: "We're not pointing the finger in any direction until we know what happened and complete our investigation."
Although the identity of the bomber is still unknown, authorities have his DNA and fingerprints and believe he was about 36 and had been in the country between four and seven days.
He was carrying a US driver's licence from Michigan State, which the FBI confirmed was fraudulent.
A forensic expert who took part in autopsies on the victims and the attacker told Bulgarian national TV that the bomber had a white face, light eyes and thick brown hair.
Some Bulgarian officials seemed convinced the bomber had at least one accomplice.
For years, there has been a raging intelligence war between Israel, on the one hand, and Iran and Hizbullah on the other.
It is widely thought that Israeli Mossad agents are responsible for the murder of several Iranian nuclear scientists in the past few years. Iran says it has arrested some of these agents and that it has uncovered Israeli spy rings in the Islamic Republic.
Israel stands behind the stringent economic and financial sanctions the UN Security Council has been imposing on Iran in connection with its nuclear programme, which the Iranians say is peaceful.
Israel is worried that the Iranian nuclear programme will enable Iran to possess nuclear capability that would "mix the cards" and make Israel lose its monopoly of nuclear weapons deterrence in the Middle East.
Israel is widely thought to possess a large arsenal of nuclear warheads, amounting to 250-300 weapons, along with their delivery systems.
Israel is also worried that the possession by an Arab or Islamic country of a nuclear deterrent would constitute an existential threat to the Zionist state.
As to Hizbullah, Israeli agents have murdered a number of the group's key leaders, including the group's security chief Imad Mughniyeh.
Both Hizbullah and Iran have threatened to settle scores with Israel.
Tel Aviv, some observers opine, has accustomed itself to fighting weak or less powerful enemies, which explains the unease with which Israel is dealing with the present crisis.