Reuters: Israel’s defence minister accused Iran and Syria of being directly responsible for Thursday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv which wounded 30 people, newspaper reports said on Friday. By Ori Lewis
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s defence minister accused Iran and Syria of being directly responsible for Thursday’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv which wounded 30 people, newspaper reports said on Friday.
The Haaretz daily reported that Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israeli authorities had “decisive proof that that the attack in Tel Aviv was a direct result of the Axis of Terror that operates between Iran and Syria”.
Mofaz was also quoted as saying that Iran had funded the attack while the operational orders to the suicide bomber, who came from the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, were issued at the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus.
Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Mofaz as saying that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who is on a two-day visit to Syria, was holding a “terrorism summit” with his host, President Bashar al-Assad.
Army Radio reported that Israel had already shared the evidence of Iran’s and Syria’s involvement with officials in the United States, Europe and Egypt.
Islamic Jihad, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, claimed responsibility for the Tel Aviv bombing, the first in the Jewish state since an 11-month truce expired at the end of last year.
The bombing raised tensions five days before a Palestinian election and confronted interim Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a major test.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the attack was aimed at sabotaging the January 25 parliamentary election. Violence could complicate the poll, in which the militant group Hamas is expected to make a strong showing against his Fatah movement.
Hours after the attack, Israeli troops killed a Palestinian on the side of a road near the West Bank city of Hebron, the army and Palestinian security sources said.
An army spokesman said soldiers fired at two Palestinians who had lit a petrol bomb, killing one man. They arrested the other.
Abbas, who engineered the truce to help smooth the way for Israel’s Gaza withdrawal in September, said the bombing was a “flagrant violation” of the truce and was aimed to try to derail the Palestinian vote.
“Whoever stands behind this operation will be pursued,” he told reporters in Ramallah.
Authorities said the bomber was the only fatality but one person was in serious condition. The other injuries were mostly light to moderate, medics said.