At least six Israeli tourists were killed today when their tourist bus was blown up in the Bulgarian town of Burgas, and Israeli officials are pointing the finger at Iran for this tragedy. This comes on the 18th anniversary of the attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 people, and was attributed to Hezbollah, acting on behalf of Iran.
President Obama condemned the attack, and pledged solidarity and his commitment to Israel’s security in the aftermath of the bombing. Secretary of State Clinton has pledged to work with Jerusalem and Sofia to ensure further attacks do not occur in the future on Bulgarian soil, as well to find the culprits responsible. Prime Minister Netanyahu said in an interview with an Israeli newspaper that his country “will react powerfully against Iranian terror”.
This is the latest in a string of attempted attacks on Israeli citizens and officials outside the nation. The most prominent of these attempts was on the wife of an embassy official in India, which was thwarted. Attacks in Thailand and Azerbaijan have also been reported, and there are rumors that Iran is behind the attacks.
The attack in Bulgaria, though, is a perplexing choice. It is a nation that has been relatively peaceful since the fall of Communism, and there is no widespread anti-Semitic sentiment. Even though 10% of the nation’s people are Muslims, they are mostly moderates, and there are no tensions between them and the roughly 5,000 Jews living in the country. The nation’s resorts on the Black Sea are popular with Europeans and Israelis looking for a cheap alternative to other Mediterranean nations, and picking there for an attack against Israel could’ve invited other nations to react.
One theory is that Bulgaria’s unfamiliarity with foreign terrorism makes them a vulnerable target for outside forces, since there has been little need to respond to suicide bombs, or religious strife in recent times. The airport at Burgas has since been closed pending investigation into the incident, and Jerusalem is now looking into responses if Tehran is involved in the attack. Iran’s government has not claimed responsibility for the attack, and some observers don’t think the attack carries any of the hallmarks of Islamic terrorist organizations, notably Hezbollah.