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Netanyahu speaks with Indian leader Modi after blast near Israel’s Delhi embassy

PM thanks his Indian counterpart for protecting Israeli representatives in country; the two discuss mutual recognition of certification for coronavirus vaccinees

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at a joint press conference in the president's house in New Delhi, India, on January 15, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at a joint press conference in the president's house in New Delhi, India, on January 15, 2018. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Monday with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to thank him for his efforts to safeguard Israeli diplomats and officials, in the wake of a bombing last week outside Israel’s embassy in New Delhi.

The two leaders also discussed possible cooperation on coronavirus vaccines, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Modi told Netanyahu that India was committed to the security of Israelis in the country and would cooperate with Israel to fight against terrorism.

Netanyahu also congratulated Modi on India’s homegrown vaccine against the coronavirus, and received similar praise for Israel’s mass vaccination drive. The prime ministers talked of possible cooperation in producing and supplying vaccines to Israel and also mutual recognition of vaccine certification, the statement said.

Some form of mutually agreed international recognition of those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 is expected to be introduced by nations all over the world in the future to enable international travel.

National Security Guard soldiers inspect the site of a blast near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, January 30, 2021. (Dinesh Joshi/AP)

Netanyahu and Modi have close relations and often shower each other with public praise and good wishes.

An Indian police statement described the Friday explosion as caused by 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.”

Israeli authorities are treating the explosion as a suspected terror attack aimed at the embassy, and have stepped up security precautions at missions around the world.

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

A handwritten note found at the scene of the bombing claimed responsibility for a previously unknown group identifying itself as “India Hezbollah.”

The note included a death threat against Ambassador Ron Malka, warning that he was being constantly being watched and could be attacked at any time. It said the group was seeking to avenge the deaths of “martyrs” Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander who was killed in a January 2020 United States drone strike; Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top Iraqi militia commander who was killed along with Soleimani; and Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s nuclear program, killed in a November 2020 attack Tehran has blamed on Israel.

In 2012, the wife of Israel’s defense attaché to India was moderately injured after a motorcyclist attached a bomb to her car near Israel’s New Delhi embassy. Iran was suspected in that attack. It was part of a series of attempted attacks against Israeli targets around the world attributed to Iran. 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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