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Report: envelope addressed to Israel Embassy found at scene

Blast outside Israel’s New Delhi embassy damages cars; security raised worldwide

Nobody hurt in explosion apparently caused by a small improvised device; Israeli authorities treating it as a suspected terror attack

Policemen stand guard near the Israeli Embassy after a blast in the area in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.  (AP Photo/Rishi Lekhi)
Policemen stand guard near the Israeli Embassy after a blast in the area in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Rishi Lekhi)

A blast outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on Friday damaged cars but did not cause injuries, police said.

Israeli authorities were treating the explosion as a suspected terror attack aimed at the embassy, The Times of Israel has learned, and was stepping up security precautions at missions around the world.
“The assessment is that this was an attempted attack aimed at the embassy this evening,” Ambassador Ron Malka later told Channel 12 News, adding that the blast went off “a few dozen meters from the embassy walls.”

The district around the embassy was sealed off after the explosion and police and bomb disposal experts took over the scene.

A police statement described it as a “very low-intensity improvised device” that blew out the windows on three nearby cars and said a preliminary investigation “suggests a mischievous attempt to create a sensation.”

The New Delhi Television news channel said the explosive device had ball bearings wrapped in a plastic bag and was left on the pavement outside the embassy.

CNN India reported that police had found an envelope near the scene with the words “For Israel Embassy” on it. The report said police were not divulging the content of a letter inside.

There was no immediate police confirmation for either report.

Channel 12 reported that Israeli explosive experts and the Mossad would be involved in the investigation.

While Israeli TV speculated that Iran could be behind the incident, as it has been blamed for previous attacks on Israeli embassies, Channel 13 said that this appeared to be a “very primitive” attack and did not seem to be the work of a “sophisticated terror cell.”

Policemen stand guard near the Israeli Embassy after a blast in the area in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

The blast in the high-security zone occurred while India’s president and prime minister were attending a ceremony marking the end of Republic Day celebrations. The venue is about 1.4 kilometers (1 mile) from the Israeli embassy.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the blast and that no one was hurt.

“The incident is being investigated by Indian authorities who are in contact with the relevant Israeli officials,” the ministry said. “The foreign minister is being updated regularly and has ordered all necessary security steps be taken.”

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

“The Indian FM assured me that the Indian authorities are committed to the security of all Israeli diplomatic staff and will continue to act resolutely to locate all those involved in the explosion,” Ashkenazi tweeted, adding that “I thanked him and promised full cooperation and any help required from Israel.”

Meanwhile, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval called Israel’s NSA Meir Ben-Shabbat to update him on the investigation.

Ben-Shabbat passed a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that Israel has “full confidence that Indian authorities will successfully investigate the incident and protect Israelis and Jews there,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Israeli missions have already been on alert around the world in the wake of the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist in November of last year. Tehran has blamed Israel and promised revenge.

In 2012 the wife of Israel’s defense attaché to India was moderately injured after a motorcyclist attached a bomb to her car near the embassy. Iran was suspected in the Delhi attack.

The car that was carrying Tal Yehoshua Koren burns outside the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, February 2012 (photo credit: Joji Philip Thomas, via Twitter)
File: A car that was carrying Tal Yehoshua Koren burns outside the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, February 2012 (Joji Philip Thomas, via Twitter)

It was part of a series of attempted attacks against Israeli targets around the world attributed to Iran. The same day as the New Delhi blast, a bomb was discovered on an Israeli diplomat’s car in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The next day, three Iranians accidentally blew up their house in Thailand.

There was speculation that those incidents were in response to Israel’s alleged assassinations of multiple Iranian nuclear scientists as Jerusalem fought to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

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