Bombers targeted Israel embassy workers in the capitals of India and Georgia on Monday, detonating a device that destroyed an Israeli diplomatic car in New Delhi and planting an explosive on an Israeli diplomat’s vehicle in Tbilisi that was defused. Israeli leaders accused Iran of responsibility for the attacks, which left at least two people in the Indian blast hospitalized.
Iran denied responsibility, asserting Israel had committed the attacks itself to smear the Iranians. But if the Israeli accusations are verified they would represent Iran’s first confirmed retaliation for a series of recent attacks in Iran aimed at killing Iranian atomic scientists and sabotaging Iran’s disputed nuclear program, the source of rising tensions between Iran and the West. Iran has said it would avenge those attacks, which it has blamed on Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said the bombing in India and attempted bombing in Georgia were part of what he called a campaign of terrorism by Iran and the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, aimed at Israel, which Iran regards as an implacable enemy.
“In the past few months we have witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in a number of places — Azerbaijan, Thailand and others,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement. “In each of those cases we managed to thwart the attacks with the cooperation of local officials. In all of those cases, those who stood behind the attacks were Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah.”
Mr. Netanyahu confirmed that an Israeli woman was among the two people injured in New Delhi and that the attempted bombing in Georgia was against a local employee of the Israeli Embassy there. Israel Radio reported that the injured woman was the wife of the Israeli Defense Ministry attaché at the embassy in New Delhi. A doctor at the hospital where she was taken said that shrapnel had penetrated her spine and liver and that she was undergoing spinal surgery. “Iran, which stands behind these attacks, is the biggest exporter of terrorism in the world,” Mr. Netanyahu said, adding, “We will continue to act with a strong arm, methodically and patiently, against international terrorism that originates from Iran.”
Photos posted online by an Indian journalist who witnessed the blast in New Delhi said the force of the explosion hurled a woman riding in the car out of the vehicle and across the road, where bystanders helped her before an ambulance arrived. Star News, an Indian television station, quoted police officers as saying a motorcyclist tailing the vehicle, a silver Toyota Innova minivan, had slapped a magnetic bomb on the car’s rear — the same method used to kill an Iranian scientist in Tehran last month.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry, rejecting Israel’s accusations, said through a spokesman that “Israel has bombed its embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi to tarnish Iran’s friendly ties with the host countries,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. The spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, also said “Israel perpetrated the terrorist actions to launch psychological warfare against Iran.”
Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, was earlier quoted by Reuters as saying that in both cases, the people targeted worked in the Israeli embassies of India and Georgia. He said that a bomb found in a car belonging to a staff member at Israel’s Embassy in the Georgian capital had been defused by the local police.
The incidents came a day after the fourth anniversary of the killing of Imad Mugniya, a top Hezbollah commander whose sport utility vehicle was blown up by a powerful bomb in the Syrian capital of Damascus.
Mr. Mugniya had been sought by the United States for his alleged role in terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in the 1980s. Israel held him responsible for Hezbollah military operations in southern Lebanon from the mid-1990s. Israel officially distanced itself from the killing but was widely suspected of involvement in it.
Iran has been saying publicly it would avenge the killings of Iranian scientists. At least five scientists with connections to Iran’s disputed nuclear program have been killed under mysterious circumstances since 2007, the most recent last month.
As news of the New Delhi blast trickled in, Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told reporters, “Without going into details, we can identify exactly who is responsible for the bombing and we will not let it go unanswered.”
Yigal Palmor, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Israel was “looking into the incidents,” adding, “cooperation with the local security forces is excellent.”
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the attacks on embassy personnel and said the United States was “ready to assist with any investigation of these cowardly actions.”
Hezbollah maintains strong ties to Iran and Syria. Last month, amid public warnings from the United States and Israel of a possible terrorist attack, Thai officials said that they had arrested a Lebanese man believed to be a member of Hezbollah in connection with a plot to strike tourists in Bangkok. Thai officials said that the arrest came after weeks of coordination with Israel.
In New Delhi, Indian officials said both the driver and the wife of an Israeli diplomat were injured in the blast which occurred close to the embassy, The Associated Press reported.
“They are in the hospital and being tended to,” an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin, told The A.P.
Around 9 p.m., Dr. Deep Makkar, head of international patients at Primus Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave, said she was in the first hour of a three-hour operation.
Over the long term, he said, “She may have some neurological injuries, because her nerves are involved,” forecasting the possibility of “some loss of sensation in her limbs."
The car, a Toyota Innova, was attacked less than a mile from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence. Indian forensic experts were examining it late in the afternoon.
Ravi Singh, a nearby service station owner, said he heard a loud blast and ran toward the burning car. Several people who were in the car behind it stopped and rescued the driver and woman occupant.
In Tbilisi, Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman for the Georgian Interior Ministry, confirmed that a bomb was discovered attached to the car of an employee of the Israeli Embassy.
“The car of a Georgian national working for the Israeli Embassy was mined,” he said. “The embassy employee noticed a suspicious object and he called the police, and the police successfully defused it before it went off.”
He said the car was not parked close to the embassy at the time. He said this was the first attempted attack on an employee of the Israeli Embassy.