Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday night spoke on the phone with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, offering condolences to the families of the victims in the deadly Brussels attacks and Israeli assistance to combat terror.
A series of bombings claimed by the Islamic State group on Tuesday ripped through the Brussels airport and a metro train, killing around 35 people in the latest attack to bring carnage to the heart of Europe.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu told the Belgian premier that terror does not distinguish between countries.
He conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims, and “offered Israel’s help and cooperation in the war on terror,” the statement said, without elaborating.
The two leaders agreed to meet soon.
Earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu linked a wave of terror attacks in Israel since October to global terrorism in an address, via satellite, to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference.
From attacks in Brussels to Paris to Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said, “the terrorists have no resolvable grievances,” including Israel’s control of the Palestinian territories. “It’s not as if we could offer them Brussels, or Istanbul, or California, or even the West Bank,” he said.
On Tuesday morning, bloodied and dazed travelers staggered from the airport after two explosions — at least one blamed on a suicide attacker and another reportedly on a suitcase bomb — tore through crowds checking in for morning flights. About 40 minutes later, another blast struck subway commuters in central Brussels near the Maelbeek station, which sits amid the European Commission headquarters.
Authorities released a photo taken from closed-circuit TV footage of three men pushing luggage carts, saying two of them apparently were the suicide bombers and that the third — dressed in a light-colored coat, black hat and glasses — was at large. They urged the public to contact them if they recognized him. The two men believed to be the suicide attackers apparently were wearing dark gloves on their left hands.
In police raids across Brussels, authorities later found a nail-filled bomb, chemical products and an Islamic State flag in a house in the Schaerbeek neighborhood, the state prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
In its claim of responsibility, the Islamic State group said its members detonated suicide vests both at the airport and in the subway, where many passengers fled to safety down dark tunnels filled with hazy smoke from the explosion in a train pulling away from the platform.
European security officials have been bracing for a major attack for weeks and warned that IS was actively preparing to strike. The arrest Friday of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the November 13 attacks in Paris, heightened those fears, as investigators said many more people were involved than originally thought and that some are still on the loose.
“In this time of tragedy, this black moment for our country, I appeal to everyone to remain calm but also to show solidarity,” said Michel, who announced three days of mourning in his country’s deadliest terror strike.
“Last year it was Paris. Today it is Brussels. It’s the same attacks,” said French President Francois Hollande.
Belgium raised its terror alert to the highest level, shut the airport through Wednesday and ordered a city-wide lockdown, deploying about 500 soldiers onto Brussels’ largely empty streets to bolster police checkpoints. France and Belgium both reinforced border security.