Netanyahu cabinet - close 390.
(photo credit: Maariv Pool)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Iran is likely behind the attack on Israeli civilians in Bulgaria, and vowed a powerful Israeli response.
"All the signs lead to Iran. Only in the past few months we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places," Netanyahu said in a statement.
"This is an Iranian terror campaign that is spreading throughout the world," Netanyahu said. "Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror,"
"Eighteen years exactly after the blast at the Jewish community center in Argentina, murderous Iranian terror continues to hit innocent people. This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading throughout the entire world."
Seven people were killed and many injured when a bomb exploded on an Israeli tourist bus at the airport of the Bulgarian city of Burgas on Wednesday, the 18th anniversary of the Iran-sponsored attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The death toll, though still not officially confirmed, was reported by Bulgaria's Sofia News Agency.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed that Israel will find the perpetrators of the terrorist attack.
"The defense establishment will work with all its might to find the perpetrators of this terrorist attack and those who sent them," Barak said. "We have a long struggle with [terrorists] that has many successes and many difficult days. Today is such a difficult day."
Barak said it was of the utmost importance that Israelis not allow terrorism to prevent them from living normal lives.
"In my view, it's of the utmost importance that we do not lose our stamina, nor the ability to understand that we have to live," the minister said. "It's important that Israeli continue to travel in the world, continue to travel in Israel, and continue to live their normal lives despite all the pain."
Opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich responded to the "murderous terror attack" in Bulgaria and said that "there is no doubt that the instability in the region is spawned by Iran aiming especially for Israelis and Jews throughout the world."
Yechimovich added that, "Israeli security forces have succeeded to prevent several attempted attacks targeted at traveling Israelis in recent months."
The opposition leader also said that, "Unfortunately, today in Bulgaria we were forced again to cope with terror operations."
Yechimovich affirmed her faith in Israel's security forces and sent her condolences to the families of the terror attack victims.
Former head of Israel’s Counterterrorism Bureau Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel said that Hezbollah and Iran could have recruited operatives from within Bulgaria’s Muslim community or crossed into the country from Turkey.
“Hezbollah has a presence in Bulgaria and there have been attempts that were thwarted there before,” Nuriel, who stepped down from his post earlier this year. “They could have relied on the local Muslim community or crossed into Bulgaria from Turkey. It is quite easy.”
Nuriel said that if eyewitness reports that a suicide bomber carried out the attack, then it could be a sign of Hezbollah frustration with its failure until now to successfully attack Israel in past attempts in India, Georgia, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Cyprus and Greece.
“Using a suicide bomber is in order to make sure that the attack will take place since the bomber will be able to make the necessary decisions,” he said. Reuters contributed to this report.