Delhi Police: Minor Explosion Near Israeli Embassy 'Attempt to Create a Sensation'

The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed no casualties, no damage to the embassy building ■ Israeli official says it is treated as a terror incident ■ Indian police issues alert to airports, government buildings

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Police officials examine the site of an explosion near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, January 29, 2021
Police officials examine the site of an explosion near the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, January 29, 2021Credit: DANISH SIDDIQUI/ REUTERS

An explosion was reported on Friday near the Israeli embassy in Delhi. According to Indian media reports, police said there were no casualties and the blast caused some damage to cars parked in the central street.

A Delhi police statement said that "initial impressions suggest a mischievous attempt to create a sensation."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed there were no casualties and no damage was caused to the embassy building. “All envoys and embassy workers are safe,” it said in a statement, adding Indian authorities are looking into the incident.

The blast occurred shortly after 5 P.M. IST (1130 GMT), while India's President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were participating in a military ceremony two kilometers away from the site.

Both Israeli and Indian investigations are treating it as a security-related incident against the embassy. Prior to the attack, an Israeli directive called for increased vigilance at its embassies around the world due to fears of an Iranian attack.

Israeli Ambassador to India Ron Malka said “we are treating this as a terror incident.”

“We are always aware that we are targets for terror organizations...this is not new, although in recent times there has been increase in the level of vigilance,” he added.

Malka also stated that he could not specify when the embassy will reopen, and added that the Delhi embassy was in contact with the other Israeli missions in India, which are in Bombay and Bangalore, to update them on events. 

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar earlier spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, and reassured him that India remains watchful over the security of Israeli emissaries to India.

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval also spoke to National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who updated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about India’s investigation efforts. 

The Israeli premier asked Ben-Shabbat to convey full confidence that Narendra Modi and the Indian authorities’ investigation will be thorough and ensure the safety of Israelis and Jews in India. 

An official from the Indian embassy in Tel Aviv told Haaretz that the incident was taken very seriously. "We will continue to take all necessary measures to protect the embassy and personnel. The matter is under investigation, and no efforts will be spared to find the culprits," he said.

When asked if she believed the Iranians were behind the attack, she said:  "As of now, I don’t believe it is connected to Iran. We don’t know who is behind this now."

Earlier Friday, Indian news agency ANI cited Indian police statement that an alert has been issued at all airports, important installations and government buildings following the blast, and that enhanced security services were put into place.

Indian news website NDTV quoted police sources saying an explosive device “wrapped up in plastic bag and left on the pavement” caused the blast.

A Reuters eyewitness said the site of the blast was quickly cordoned off by police.

In 2012, a blast near the embassy in New Delhi injured an Israeli diplomat's wife, her driver and two others. It coincided with an attack on another Israeli diplomat in Tbilisi, Georgia.

According to the Israeli embassy in Delhi, Friday also marks the 29th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and India.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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