Report of Attempt to Assassinate Netanyahu in Africa Is False, His Bureau Says

Netanyahu concludes his four-day trip to Africa; Kuwaiti paper reports that his convoy switched routes due to fear of an explosive device.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome take a stroll at the presidential palace in Addis Ababa.
Kobi Gideon, GPO

A report claiming that there was an attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to Africa was false, his bureau said on Thursday.

The report, which appeared in the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida newspaper, said that Netanyahu's convoy in Nairobi, Kenya, took a different route than planned due to fear of an assassination attempt involving an explosive device.

Netanyahu is set to land in Israel on Friday morning, following a four-day visit to four African countries. Netanyahu concluded his trip in Addis Ababa on Thursday, where he met with Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and gave a speech in parliament.

The visit to all four countries – Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia – was carried out under heavy security measures, both local and Israeli. The head of the Shin Bet's VIP protection unit joined the visit and closely supervised the security guards' activities.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), flanked by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (2nd L) and military officials, during his visit to State House in Nairobi on July 5, 2016, during his trip with Africa.
Simon Maina, AFP

In addition to the prime minister's secret service detail, whose role is to quickly evacuate the prime minister to safety or for medical treatment in case of an assassination, the Shin Bet positioned additional bodyguards.  

Netanyahu and his delegation met with officials from the Ethiopian government to discuss the expansion of cooperation in the fields of agriculture, communications, tourism, science and technology. Desalegn and Netanyahu also attended a business meeting with businessmen and officials from Israeli and Ethiopian companies. Netanyahu called on the Israelis to "invest in Ethiopia, invest in Africa." He called on the Ethiopians to "invest in Israeli knowledge, in Israeli companies."  

In response to a journalist's question on Abera Mengistu, an Israeli of Ethiopian origin who's being held by Hamas in Gaza, Netanyahu said that "I've raised the issue of Mengistu with the Ethiopian prime minister and asked him to help. We always raise the issue of our citizens and captives, on different opportunities, and of course that here too."

As for Ethiopian Jews who are interested in immigrating to Israel, Netanyahu said that "regarding the bringing over of community members who are here, we're doing that. We've made commitments and we're carrying them on humanitarian grounds and on grounds of family reunification. It will be carried out in this budget. We are committed and we are taking care [of the matter]," Netanyahu said, referring to the 2016 budget.