Saturday, January 16, 2010

Israelis survive Jordan bomb blast

AMMAN: A roadside bomb has exploded near an Israeli embassy convoy headed to the Jewish state from the Jordanian capital.

"The Israeli embassy convoy left Amman and was headed for the Hussein bridge when the blast occurred. Nobody was hurt," an Israeli diplomat said yesterday, referring to the crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israeli media said the bomb detonated near the convoy taking the Israeli ambassador to Jordan, Dani Nevo, to the bridge, also known as the Allenby bridge, 50km west of Amman.

But sources in Jordan said former Israeli ambassador Yakov Rosen was in the convoy, not Mr Nevo, while Israel's Foreign Ministry said it was unclear whether Mr Nevo was in the convoy headed to Israel via the West Bank.

Israel's Ynetnews said four embassy staff members and two security guards were in the convoy, while the newspaper Haaretz said two remotely detonated bombs exploded, causing one car to flip over. The embassy's consular officer and her husband arrived back in Israel, reports said.

"The cars were not damaged by the blast," Nabil Sharif said, adding an investigation was under way into the attack and to determine the type of explosives used.

A source close to the investigation said: "The blast left a crater . . . 10cm deep and 80cm wide."

Israeli diplomats often travel home on Thursdays, the start of the Muslim weekend in Jordan, and return on Sundays to Jordan, which in 1994 became only the second Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, after Egypt.

Israeli diplomats in Jordan usually use rental cars.

Several attacks or attempted attacks against Israelis have occurred in Jordan since the signing of the treaty but such incidents have been rare in recent years.

In 2003, a Jordanian driver crossed the southern border with Israel and opened fire at a group of foreigners in the transit zone. He was shot by Israeli soldiers.

A non-Israeli tourist was killed and five others were wounded.

Israeli analysts said security co-ordination between Jordan and Israel was excellent, andAmman had foiled several attempts to attack Israeli targets in the past.

"I'm sure this was a surprise for the Jordanians. These people are probably Islamic or al-Qa'ida that pose a danger to the Hashemite kingdom, too," Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies said.

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood said "such incidents should be expected". "As long as Israel is in the region, carrying out its non-stop aggression against the Palestinian people, we should expect these things to happen," said Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu Baker. "Israel is the source of violence in the Middle East."

The influential Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front, have repeatedly called for the scrapping of the peace treaty, expulsion of Israel's ambassador and a cut in relations with Israel.

The Australian

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