Benjamin Netanyahu at a Foreign Ministry ceremony for fallen soldiers, April 2018.
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)
Israel’s security services are poised to thwart any attempt to harm its diplomats abroad, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, amid Iran’s threats that it will avenge the attack last week on the T4 Air Base near Homs which has been attributed to Israel.
14 killed in alleged Israeli airstrike on Syrian airbase, April 10, 2018 (Reuters)
Netanyahu was speaking at the Foreign Ministry’s annual memorial ceremony for 16 employees killed in terrorist attacks, 14 of them murdered abroad.
“The forces of darkness and terrorism thought that, by striking at our representatives, they would hurt our international standing. The exact opposite happened,” the prime minister said.
“At the same time, the members of our security branches – the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] and the Mossad – are standing guard to thwart additional attempts to harm us, and we take every warning seriously in order to protect the safety and security of our representatives wherever they are,” he said.
Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind the 1992 bombing of the Israel Embassy in Buenos Aires, which killed 28 people, including three Israel diplomats, and the 1994 bombing in the Argentinian capital of the AMIA Jewish community building, which killed 85 people.
The first attack on an Israeli embassy that led to fatalities was in Asuncion, Paraguay, in 1970, when a secretary – Edna Peer – was killed. The last fatality was in 2003, when former ambassador to Britain Shlomo Argov died of wounds from the attack 21 years earlier when three Abu Nidal terrorists shot him in the head in London.
Foreign Ministry employees have also been killed in Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt and South Africa.
Netanyahu noted that the practice of granting immunity to diplomats goes back to ancient Greece, and was reaffirmed at the 1815 Congress of Vienna.
“But barbaric fanaticism does not take into account accepted rules of behavior honored for generations,” he said.
Netanyahu cited the Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in 1979 as a watershed moment that set the tone for the future of “terrorism, terrorism and more terrorism.”
“Terrorism crosses boundaries,” Netanyahu said, “and today – as was the case then [in 1979] – it is under Iranian auspices, and under the sponsorship of Islamic State. There is not a continent or country safe from terrorism. What we have to do is stand against them together – to build a strong dam of the civilized world against the flood of radicalism.
Terrorists smell weakness, but they equally recognize power.
With force and firmness, we will stop their aggression.”
Later in the day, at a ceremony for the families of fallen soldiers at Yad Labanim in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that the “existence of the individual and the freedom of the community depend on the willingness to stand up against those who seek our lives. Only in this way will we protect our lives, our flourishing homeland, the extraordinary achievements of our country – the fruit of the effort of generations.”
The premier said that when he met last week with brothers and sisters of fallen soldiers, one of them said, “‘Unfortunately, I can no longer live with my brother, but he lives on inside of me.’ “We are the living part of those who fell. They were stopped; we carry on as their representatives. When we build, they are with us. When we plant, they are with us.
When we create, they are with us.”