Attack puts focus on covert India-Israeli relations


INDIAN SECURITY agencies were searching yesterday for a “well-trained” motorcyclist, who stuck a magnet bomb to an Israeli diplomat’s car in New Delhi. Four people were injured in Monday’s attack that Tel Aviv blames on Iran.

Iran has denied the accusation. India’s federal home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said it was aimed at Tal Yehoshua Koren, wife of the Israeli defence attaché in Delhi.

Ms Koren is in a Delhi hospital recovering from her injuries. “Investigations [into the bombing] are on,” Mr Chidambaram said, adding that preliminary inquiries indicated it was a terrorist attack.

The bombing in Delhi that coincided with an explosive device being defused beneath an Israeli diplomat’s car in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, has once again focused attention on India’s close but shadowy strategic, military and intelligence links with Tel Aviv following the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in January 1992.

Over the past decade Tel Aviv has, after Russia, emerged as India’s second largest supplier of material annually valued by armament industry officials at about $ 1 billion.

But despite this rapidly proliferating association – Israel’s most significant in Asia – it is shrouded in secrecy, operating in an undefined smoke-and-mirrors environment.

Both sides go to great lengths to play down this strategic Freemasonry for fear of stirring up anti-Jewish sentiment among India’s substantial Muslim minority and straining ties with Arab states upon whom India depends for almost 70 per cent of its hydrocarbon imports.

Reciprocal visits to Delhi and Tel Aviv by defence, security and intelligence officers are kept strictly under wraps with neither side willing to comment on the burgeoning defence relationship and related commerce.

India’s 11-week-long border skirmish with Pakistan in the northern, disputed Kashmir region in 1999 dramatically pushed Israel to centre stage as a dependable supplier of military goods.

Israel dug deep into its reserves to supply India with high-end ordnance, unmanned aerial vehicles and laser-guided bombs that contributed to terminating the fighting.

Thereafter, Israel began claiming its dues in material sales and continues to do so.

Israel and India share similar, but unpublicised concerns over threats posed not only by a nuclear-weapon-capable, and increasingly Islamised, Pakistan but the rapid radicalisation of its society and armed forces.

And, as Pakistan struggles under the weight of its regional and tribal tensions there is the apocalyptic fear of its strategic weapons cache falling into the hands of radical Islamic groups.


ISRAELI DEFENCE minister Ehud Barak says yesterday’s explosions in the Thai capital, Bangkok, is further proof that Iran is targeting Israelis worldwide.

Speaking shortly after an Iranian man was seriously wounded when a bomb he was carrying exploded, blowing off one of his legs, Mr Barak said Iran and Hizbullah pose a threat to regional and world stability. “The Iranians and Hizbullah are determined to sabotage Israeli daily life and are operating against Israelis all over the world.”

The Thailand explosions came a day after a car bombing in India and an attempted strike in Georgia targeted Israeli diplomatic vehicles.

Iran and Hizbullah denied Israeli claims they were responsible.

Thai authorities confirmed the wounded man was an Iranian national but they refused to speculate if he was linked to any group. Bangkok police said the explosion appeared to be a botched terror attack. Shortly before the blast, there was an explosion in a house the man was renting in central Bangkok and, shortly afterwards, another blast on a nearby road. Four other people were injured in the explosions.

Two other Iranians were believed to be staying in the rented house. One was arrested at a Bangkok airport trying to board a flight to Malaysia. Thai police are still searching for the third man.

Last month, Israel and the US urged citizens visiting Bangkok to be alert after a Lebanese-Swedish man, allegedly linked to Hizbullah, was detained by Thai police.

Israeli missions worldwide have been placed on top alert and security inside Israel was also stepped up yesterday. Public security minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch vowed that Israel will avenge the recent attacks.

“We know who carried out the terror attacks, we know who sent them, and Israel will settle the score with them.” – MARK WEISS