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Regional unrest tempers Israeli response to Bulgaria attack

The Iranian nuclear issue and the possible collapse of the Syrian regime are the main obstacles for Israel's response to the suicide attack against Israelis in Bulgaria, an Israeli military analyst said on Thursday. According to Ron Ben-Yishai, instability in Egypt and the sensitive situation in Jordan are also considerations for the Israeli government.


Hezbollah and Iran are accused of carrying out the attack against a bus full of Israeli tourists. Ben-Yishai claims that the Lebanese group collaborated with the "Al-Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards". He said that the two sides worked with local agents: "These elements tend to make use of local infrastructure, that is, collaborators who help people arriving from the outside or who carry out the attack."

Ben-Yishai noted that Hezbollah and the Iranians have been trying to carry out such attacks against Israeli targets abroad since the killing of Hezbollah's operational chief Imad Mugniyah by Israel's Mossad spy agency in 2008. He said that Bulgarian security forces claim to have thwarted a similar attack in January this year.

Operational failures in places such as Thailand, Tbilisi and other places in Asia have honed Iran's ability to carry out attacks against Israeli targets, claimed Ben-Yishai, along with "good intelligence".

Writing in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the analyst said that warnings regarding a terror attack in Bulgaria were issued two months ago but then withdrawn. As such, he cast doubts on whether an attack really was thwarted by Bulgarian security earlier this year.

"Did Bulgarian security detain and question the alleged perpetrators in January?" he asked. "If so, were they also questioned by other spy agencies?" This, according to Ben-Yishai, must be examined in order to draw lessons from the experience.

Israeli officials have previously said that any attack against Israeli targets would be blamed on Hezbollah; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already promised to respond to the attack.

The big question according to Ben-Yishai is whether Israel will hold back from a knee-jerk response in deference to the considerations noted above and "wait for an opportune time and then settle the score with the perpetrators via a surgical strike".

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