Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Attack on Israeli diplomat: A Challenge in counter terrorism and Diplomacy

- Nirendra Dev

None can dispute that terrorism is a global challenge. Closer home in South Asia, it has been punctuated with all the more dangerous dimensions with diplomatic riddles.
The attack on an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi through an improvised explosive mechanized device on February 13, 2012 must be seen in that paradigm.

Police investigators say a “well-trained" person possibly on a motorcycle drove up to the Toyota Innova car and attached a device to it while it was waiting at a traffic intersection sparking off the explosion within seconds, injuring four people.

They also this is the first time that such a technique has been used in a terror attack in India.
Magnetic bits were found on the car, indicating the use of a "sticky bomb".

The Israeli diplomat's wife Ms Tal Yehoshua-Koren, who was in the car when the explosion took place had sustained serious injuries and is stated to be in critical condition with her left leg lying paralyzed.
Three other people, including the driver of the car, also had received minor injuries.

The Government of India has taken the incident very seriously. The Home Minister P Chidambaram has termed the attack a ‘terror strike’ and that a very well trained person has committed the attack.

He said there were reasons to believe that the target was the Israeli diplomat’s wife and thus the investigations had to be pursued in that direction.

The United States has offered its assistance to the probe.

While the government of India has handed over the task of probe to the National Investigating Agency besides the Delhi police, Israel has deputed a post-blast investigation team from Israel to help in investigations.
The Israeli government has also passed on information to India about two suspects who are currently in the custody of the Georgian police over a bomb being found in the car of a local employee at the Israeli embassy in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has himself claimed that the two incidents are linked and has blamed Iran and the militant group Hezbollah for the incident in Delhi too.

However, given the immense diplomatic sensitivity attached to the entire issue, India is firm about doing the right tightrope diplomatic walk. While New Delhi has assured Israel of a serious and thorough investigation, the External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has made it clear that the government does not want to speculate on Iran's role. India’s stance is critically important as Iran has already denied about any such possibilities.

In the emerging global situation, India has over the years cherished smooth and cordial relations with both Iran and Israel.

India has formally termed Israel as an ‘important partner’ with enhanced ties in counter-terrorism, defence arena, agriculture, energy and culture.
Only in January 2012, the external affairs minister S M Krishna made a state visit to Israel coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and New Delhi.

It is no small tribute given the fact that formal relations between India and Israel had started only in 1992. But the ties between the two countries have grown on a very fast pace under various governments in New Delhi.

Similarly, with Iran too, India has had friendly and very warm relations in many areas. There are significant trade ties, particularly in crude oil imports into India and diesel exports to Iran.
Lately, New Delhi has also tried to follow a different roadmap than the western countries like the US, who are in some sort of hurry and waiting in the wings for harsher sanctions against Tehran.
The general understanding is that Iran's nuclear programme will not affect India's broader engagement with that country as New Delhi is more keen to see that Tehran is able to play a balancing role in West Asia.

True, in the ultimate analysis, the bomb attack of February 13 on the Israeli embassy vehicle thus pose a twin challenge --- one to counter terrorism and the other in maintaining diplomatic harmony, as they put it.

(ends)

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