Eighteen years after blowing up the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires
– an attack that killed 85 people – Hezbollah appears to have struck again, this
time in Bulgaria.
While it is difficult to disconnect the two attacks due
to the amazing timing, there are some differences, most importantly the chosen
In 1994 in Argentina, a van with hundreds of kilograms of
explosives rammed into the AMIA center, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.
Wednesday’s attack appears to have been caused by a bomb planted on the
While the attack is severe, it is not on the scale of what happened
The fact that the assault is of a smaller scale demonstrates the
difficulty Hezbollah faces today in carrying out large-scale attacks against
This is due to the world’s efforts to crack down on Iran and its
terror proxies over the years in addition to Israeli efforts to bolster its
intelligence and defense ties with countries that it feared were not taking the
An example of this was in 2010, when then-Mossad chief
Meir Dagan visited Sofia and met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
The Bulgarians then released a rare photo of the two meeting.
question now is what Israel will do.
While Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed a “powerful response” to
Wednesday’s attack, Israel will first need to obtain concrete evidence against
the perpetrators and the plotters.
In general, Hezbollah is understood to
prefer an attack overseas – against an embassy, an airplane or a consulate –
rather than one along the northern border, since this would allow it a level of
deniability. On Wednesday evening, shortly after the attack, it issued a
statement denying it was involved.
Either way, there are officials within
the defense establishment who believe that such an attack needs to be met by a
A few months ago, for example, IDF Chief of Staff
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz warned Hezbollah not to test Israel’s resolve by
perpetrating a terror attack against an Israeli target overseas. If Israel does
not respond, it could be perceived as a paper tiger.
believe Israel should not go to war over just any attack, and the country’s
reaction would need to depend on the chosen target and of course the outcome,
i.e. the number of casualties.
Basically, is the number of Israelis
killed in Bulgaria enough to justify a response that could lead to a war?
is how the attack in Bulgaria connects to another bombing that happened earlier
in the day in Damascus and wiped out some of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s
most-senior advisors, including his defense minister and more importantly – his
brother-in-law, the deputy defense minister.
The situation in Syria –
described by one defense official as a massive earthquake – is extremely
unstable right now and Israel’s primary concern is the possibility that
Hezbollah or another rogue actor will try to get its hands on Assad’s chemical
If this happens, Israel might attack, a move that could easily
and fairly quickly develop into a full-scale war and suck in Hezbollah as
In addition, while the attack in Bulgaria is severe, it might not
be enough to require an immediate response. Instead, the government will likely
take time to calculate its moves before striking back.
But, above all, it
will first work to create an intelligence dossier to prove to the world that
Iran really was behind the bombing.