Events of last week contain a clear reminder that Israelis need to be vigilant wherever they are around the world. Three attacks in three different countries within two days have made clear that those who wish to attack Israel will stop at nothing in their attempts to do so. In these particular attacks, poor execution and good fortune meant that there was no loss of life and that injuries were kept to a minimum. Israel knows only too well that this is not always the case, and that the next attacks may be much more serious.
An attempted attack in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on Sunday was the first of last week’s critical events. A bomb was attached to the car of a Georgian employee of the Israeli embassy, and was discovered by coincidence when the employee heard a strange noise on his car after dropping his children at kindergarten. After he stopped the car to investigate the unusual sound, the bomb was noticed attached to the car. The next incident in New Delhi on the same day was more serious because it caused moderate injuries to the wife of an Israeli official at the embassy. In this case, a “drive-by” bomber on a motorcycle attached the device to the car as the woman and her Indian driver were driving to collect children from school. The woman and the driver were both injured in the attack, as were two passers-by who were caught in the attack. In the third incident, which took place in the Thai capital Bangkok, a comedy of errors saw two Iranians detained in the city after detonating explosives while still in their possession. An Iranian man blew off both his legs when a device he was carrying exploded after he was confronted by a police office. The roof of a rented house was blown off in Bangkok when the explosives were detonated by accident. Thai police have confirmed that the intended targets of the attack were Israeli diplomatic personnel, and that the explosives in Bangkok were identical to those found in Tbilisi and New Delhi.
These attacks bring home a number of important lessons for Israelis and the Israeli government, as well as for bystanders around the world. It is clear that Iran is intent upon carrying out its threats to try to destroy Israel or, at least, to try to inflict major damage on her. Iranian President Ahmadinejad is being allowed to get away with his incitement, including statements calling for the destruction of Israel in any and every public forum, including the hallowed halls of the United Nations. On Thursday last week, only four days after the attempts by Iranians to attack Israeli diplomatic staff in foreign countries, Ahmadinejad had the audacity to turn up at an anti-terrorism conference in Pakistan. The international community has no idea how to stand up to the behaviour of this thug, and his actions are being tolerated while leaders continue to prevaricate in the halls of power around the world. Each time he is allowed to get away with his actions, he is emboldened for the next set of actions in the knowledge that the world does not have the backbone to stand up to anything that he does.
There were a few positive hidden positive messages for Israel in the actions of last week. Until now, Ahmadinejad has not found a way to attack Israel directly. He may have tried, although we will never know if there have been attempts that have failed. The attacks last week show that he is directing his efforts against Israeli targets abroad, where the security may be of a lower or inferior level. He has been unable to break through the security cordon around Israel itself. The attacks last week showed an element of desperation, demonstrated by the lack of professionalism in all of the attacks. The fact that not one of the three attacks achieved its true objective, and that Iranians were blowing themselves up in Bangkok, demonstrate that plans are being implemented before they are fully ready, and in a very haphazard fashion. Frustration and pressure were evident in the way in which the attacks were executed.
This is not an indication for Israel to sit back and relax. On the contrary, the plans to stop the development of the Iranian nuclear missile need to be executed as soon as possible. Despite the fact that the sanctions being imposed on Iran are taking their economic toll, indications are clear that these actions will not stop Iran from constructing its nuclear bomb. An economically weak Iran with a nuclear missile is no better than an economically strong Iran with the same missile. The world is looking to Israel, in many cases begrudgingly and critically, to take care of this problem. No other nation seems to have the willingness and the ability to deal with this issue. It was Israel that saved the world from an Iraqi nuclear weapon (despite enduring heavy criticism for its actions against the Iraqi nuclear reactor) and a Syrian nuclear weapon. It seems quite likely that it will be Israel that will take action against the Iranian threat as well.
Organisations like Hezbollah, Hamas and countries like Iran will continue to pose a threat to Israelis, and Israeli diplomatic missions abroad. This simply causes Israel to redouble her efforts to protect these missions to ensure that Israeli diplomats can continue to take up their rightful places in the diplomatic community. Despite having suffered attacks on diplomatic missions in London, Buenos Aires and other locations, some of which took precious lives, Israel continues to insist on being represented as a country among the nations.
I continue to believe that 2012 will be the year in which the Iranian nuclear issue is resolved, one way or the other. If Iran succeeds in getting to the end of the year with its full nuclear capabilities intact, I will concede that Iran has won this battle. I expect that things will not be quite so easy, and that Israel will be doing all that she can to ensure that this does not happen. The world is looking on expecting to see Israeli warplanes bombing Bushehr, Natanz and other Iranian nuclear facilities from the air. I find this scenario very unlikely as it presents too much of a threat to regional stability. Instead, I believe that the Israelis are hatching an unconventional plan that the Iranians may not even recognise until it is too late.
Somehow, I have to believe that this matter will be taken care of during the course of this year in order to feel that Israel’s security continues to be assured. The Israeli government and army understand this too. Instead of waiting to hear the drones of fighter-plane engines in carrying out this task, I am expecting the completely unexpected.
Photo by Synne Tonnidas