The two apparently coordinated attacks on Monday against Israeli diplomatic personnel present Israel with a significant challenge of how to respond, aside from an obvious concern for the safety of its citizens abroad. Israel has blamed Iran and its surrogate Hizbullah; both have denied involvement and Iran insists Israel launched the attacks in order to “tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries.”
But the attacks follow the recent spate of assassinations of nuclear scientists in Tehran for which no one has taken credit, though NBC news, citing unnamed U.S. officials, reported that Mossad officials are training Iranian dissidents to assassinate scientists involved with Iran’s nuclear program.
And then there were those explosions at various Iranian nuclear installations as well as the equally mysterious and debilitating hacking of Iranian computers that drive its nuclear development. Most assume Israel was involved despite the lack of concrete evidence. So one can just picture the snickering, self-righteous reactions around the world to Israel’s outrage at Iran and Hizbullah over this week’s attacks.
Obviously, though, there is no moral equivalency here and Israel cannot let this sort of thing pass unaddressed. Despite the predictable denials of complicity by Iran and Hizbullah, the circumstantial evidence is compelling.
For one thing, it was doubtless no coincidence that the simultaneous attacks on Israeli diplomats in New Delhi and Tbilisi took place when they did – within a day of the fourth anniversary of the assassination in Damascus of Hizbullah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh. Hizbullah has long vowed to avenge Mr. Mughniyeh’s death , which it blamed on Israel.
Also, the two attacks on Monday were preceded by several other attempted attacks on Israeli targets abroad, most recently in Thailand. A Hizbullah cell was also discovered just prior to launching an operation against an Israeli target in Western Europe.
Perhaps it is superfluous to explain why this is not a “good for the goose, good for the gander” moment. But it would be instructive nevertheless. Anything Israel may or may not have done must be seen in the context of an Iran that never misses an opportunity to express its desire to see – and sometimes its intention to bring about – the destruction of the Jewish state. By any measure, compromising computers, destroying facilities, even eliminating scientists key to Iran’s becoming a nuclear power seems perfectly reasonable in that light.
Nor can anyone doubt the legitimacy of Israel’s seeking to prevent continuing Hizbullah rocket attacks by derailing its terrorist infrastructure by any means necessary. The aforementioned late and unlamented Mr. Mughniyeh is a case in point.
Mr. Mughniyeh was a senior Hizbullah leader and one of the most wanted terrorists by the United States and Israel. Over the years he had been linked to a number of terrorist attacks on American and Israeli targets around the world.
According to Haaretz, “He began his activities in the 1970s he was an organizer of the ‘student brigade’ that assisted Yasir Arafat and other senior PLO officials in Lebanon.” In the 1980s and 1990s he reportedly organized several high profile terrorist attacks. “He was believed to have masterminded the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and the truck bombing of French and U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon.”
He was accused by Argentine officials in connection with the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in which 29 people were killed.
“He was also,” the Haaretz report continues, “implicated in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. He is also suspected of brokering the ill-fated Karine A arms smuggling shipment to the Palestinian Authority in 2002, and Israel has called him as the mastermind of the 2006 cross border raid which sparked the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.”
Could any self-respecting government not have taken extreme measures to neutralize a resilient arch-predator of this sort?
Unfortunately, experience has shown that where Israel is concerned, logic and common sense fly out the window. In reality, though, the actions of Iran and/ or Hizbullah in attacking Israelis overseas is a threat to the international community no less, though perhaps less direct, than it is to Israel.