Friday, January 20, 2006

Mofaz: Iran, Syria behind Tel Aviv attack


Defense officials have gathered solid evidence in the hours following Thursday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv to show the attack was a direct result of cooperation between Iran, Syria, and Palestinian terrorists.

"The attack was funded by Iran, planned by Syria, and executed by the Palestinians," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz charged during a meeting with top security officials in Tel Aviv following the bombing.

Security officials are intimately familiar with the phenomenon of terror attacks that originate outside Israel's borders. Various findings uncovered in the wake of past bombings showed that although the terrorists and explosive devices were local, a large overseas infrastructure financed attacks and pushed for their execution.

During Thursday's meeting, Mofaz said "we possess conclusive evidence that the attack is a direct result of the terror axis operating against Israel at all times." Defense officials were able to trace, based on "unequivocal evidence," the funding of the attack to Iran. Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus was the one to provide operative orders that resulted in the bombing, according to the evidence.

The execution of the attack was entrusted with an Islamic Jihad cell in the West Bank town of Nablus, where the suicide bomber originated.

Despite the charges of Iranian and Syrian complicity in the attack, defense officials do not intend to change the pattern of counter-terror operations at this time, particularly in light of the current sensitive junction and the upcoming Palestinian elections.

During Thursday's consultation, Minister Mofaz ordered the IDF and Shin Bet to continue operating against Islamic Jihad targets in the northern West Bank, tighten the siege around Nablus, and boost operations in areas where the security fence has not yet been completed.

Mofaz's declarations regarding Iranian and Syrian involvement in the attack come against the backdrop of a meeting between the two countries' leaders tonight. The defense minister characterized the Ahmadinejad-Assad summit as a "terror summit" and said the Iranian president is currently in the only place in the world where he's welcomed.

Security officials said remarks by the two leaders in Damascus overnight attest to their support of terrorism against Israel. Among other statements, Ahmadinejad and Assad said "the continued Palestinian resistance is the only way to regain the Palestinian nation's legitimate rights over the occupied Islamic territories."

Mofaz noted the Iranian-Syrian "terror axis" is not only Israel's problem and said he turned to American, European, and Egyptian officials in order to present to them the incriminating evidence, which he said leaves no room for doubt.