Netanyahu: 80% of security threats against Israel emanate from Iran
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Netanyahu: 80% of security threats against Israel emanate from Iran

At event commemorating 25th anniversary of Buenos Aires embassy bombing, PM says Israel constantly thwarts attacks on Israeli missions abroad

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Foreign Ministry on the 25th anniversary of the Buenos Aires embassy bombing, on March 6, 2017. (Koby Gideon/PMO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Foreign Ministry on the 25th anniversary of the Buenos Aires embassy bombing, on March 6, 2017. (Koby Gideon/PMO)

Iran is the source of the vast majority of Israel’s security concerns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at an event commemorating the victims of a 1992 Iranian-sponsored terror attack against Israel in Argentina.

“Iran is the greatest generator of terrorism in the world in the world and we need to to fight this terror because it is just one arm of Iranian aggression, which also seeks nuclear weapons and advances its ballistic missiles program,” he said at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Tehran continues to destabilize the region and to threaten Israel with annihilation, he went on. “One of our defense officials estimates that more than 80 percent of our security problems emanate from Iran.”

On March 17, 1992, a suicide bomber killed 29 and wounded hundreds in front of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, in what still is the deadliest attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission. A group with ties to Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah took responsibility for the bombing.

Plaza Embajada de Israel in Buenos Aires, the site of Israel's former embassy to Argentina (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)
Plaza Embajada de Israel in Buenos Aires, the site of Israel’s former embassy to Argentina (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

Speaking at the memorial event, Netanyahu — who is also foreign minister — said Jerusalem knew right away that Tehran was behind the attack.

“Iran initiated, Iran planned, and Iran, through its henchman Hezbollah, also executed it.”

Plaza Embajada de Israel in Buenos Aires, the site of Israel's former embassy to Argentina (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)
Plaza Embajada de Israel in Buenos Aires, the site of Israel’s former embassy to Argentina (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

Another example of Iranian sponsorship of terrorism followed two years later when the AMIA Jewish community center was bombed, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds, the prime minister said.

“We warned then of the growing monster of terrorism, sponsored by Iran, which sends metastases throughout the entire world, and it is still here,” he said. “Since the attack in Argentina, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah created a network of terror.”

The aftermath of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires (photo credit: Newspaper La Nación (photo credit: Argentina/Wikipedia Commons)
The aftermath of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires (Newspaper La Nación

Addressing a hall full of diplomats, dignitaries and family members of the killed Israelis, Netanyahu said that Israeli diplomatic missions are under constant threat. Israel is thwarting planned attacks all the time, he said, vowing not to be deterred by Iran’s efforts to harm Israelis stationed across the world.

Buenos Aires's rebuilt AMIA community center (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)
Buenos Aires’s rebuilt AMIA community center (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

“Since the terror attack in Argentina, Israel has grown much stronger,” he said. “We will forcefully oppose the arming of Hezbollah and dangerous weapons. Our red lines are thick and clear and we do not hesitate to act in order to enforce them,” he added, likely referring to air raids on weapons convoys smuggling game-changing arms from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria.

Netanyahu is scheduled to fly to Moscow on Thursday to discuss Iran’s role in a post-civil war Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Syria and the effort to formulate an agreement there will be at the center of our conversation,” Netanyahu said during Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting. “In the context of this agreement, or without it, Iran is trying to establish itself permanently in Syria, with a military presence on the ground and at sea, and also a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights.”

The prime minister vowed to convey to Putin Israel’s “sharp and vigorous opposition” to this scenario. “I hope we will be able to reach certain understandings in order to reduce possible friction between our forces and theirs, as we have successfully done until now.”

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