It is being treated as a terrorist attack after reprisal threats from Iranian leadership, says Ron Malka
The Israeli embassy was on a higher level of alert in the past few weeks after reprisal threats from the Iranian leadership over the killings of General Qasim Soleimani (in January 2020) and senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, says Israeli Ambassador to India Ron Malka a day after an improvised explosive device (IED) went off a few metres away from its embassy in Delhi. Police are yet to confirm any leads they are following, but the Ambassador says it is being treated as a terrorist attack that could be connected to a previous attack in 2012 that was suspected to be linked to an Iranian group. The Iranian embassy did not respond to the comments.
What kind of impact did the IED blast have on the embassy and what can you share about the investigation thus far?
Well, fortunately, the embassy property was not harmed, the only damage was to a few cars that were parked on the road. The assumption as of now is that it is a terrorist attack, targeting the Israeli embassy in New Delhi. That’s a strong assumption as of now. We still don’t know who is behind this attack. So, we’re just collecting all the pieces of information and the evidence that we have at the scene, trying to understand who is behind this attack.
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Israeli embassy officials were targeted in 2012. Is there any sense that this could be related with that attack?
It is an option. Of course, we are also investigating this, this option to see if there are any dots that we can connect. And we cannot cancel this option, of course, but what I can tell you what they can do, that it might not be a coincidence that the attack was conducted on the day we celebrated the anniversary of the forming of full diplomatic relations with India. So, whether it is connected or not, again, this is something that we need to investigate and to explore.
Are you saying that the relationship between India and Israel could have also been the target?
Yes, might be states or non-state actors that might not like relations between Israel and India and see it as a threat? If that’s the case, maybe this is one of their incentives for this evil, cowardly attack. But incidents like this make the relationship only stronger. The Minister of External Affairs, the Foreign Secretary, the NSA all called just to offer their support and assistance and to give assurances that they’re going to take all the steps needed to protect Israeli representatives in India and to fulfil this investigation properly.
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Was there any discussion about a possible joint investigation?
Whatever value we can add to this investigation, whether it’s [counter-terrorism] experience, information and practices… I’m sure that Israel and India know how to work together. Look, we as Israeli diplomats are always very well prepared. We are not surprised. We know that our enemy sees us as targets. So, on a regular basis, we have very high levels of security. Especially in the last few weeks, we raised the level of alert. So, we are not surprised [by the attack].
Was the high level of alert related to specific intelligence you received?
See, you don’t need an intelligence input to see that there were threats in the last few weeks over the assassination of (General) Soleimani and (nuclear scientist) Fakhrizadeh, just to mention, and other operations in Syria…some organisations and countries blame Israel for these and threatened that they are going to retaliate and say they will make Israel pay. So, we raised the level of alert.
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