Israeli and Western security agencies have blamed Islamists opposed to Middle East peace for a series of bomb attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina, Panama and the UK. Israel has threatened retaliation against those responsible, raising tension in southern Lebanon and sparking speculation about a possible attack against targets in Iran. Security measures in Europe and elsewhere have been stepped up in expectation of a terrorist bombing campaign.

Some 100 people were killed on 18 July when a bomb blew up a Jewish community building in Buenos Aires. Within hours of the attack, 21 people, including 12 Jewish business people, were killed in an air crash in Panama, attributed to a bomb explosion. Two car bombs in London on 26 and 27 July near the Israeli consulate and a Jewish organisation injured nearly 20 people.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali, Israel said that investigations into the Argentine attack, as well as the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy there, ‘pointed clearly to Iranian involvement’. Senior Israeli officials accused Iran of ordering Hezbollah in Lebanon to carry out the attacks to disrupt the peace process.

The official Iranian response was stated in a letter to the secretary- general from Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Kamal Kharrazi. It said that Iran was a target of international terrorism and that it has consistently denounced terrorism.

‘The frantic reactions of various Israeli officials in blaming others, including Iran, without a shred of evidence before any investigation could even commence are quite suspicious,’ Kharrazi said. He also submitted a separate statement saying Iran had co-operated with the Argentine authorities immediately.

Iran, Hezbollah and the Islamic Hamas movement in Israel have all denied any involvement. The Iranian state radio said on 27 July that the accusations were part of a plan by Israel to attack its opponents in the region. There is speculation in Tehran that the Israeli allegations that Iran is organising the bombings, as well as the threats to make a ‘painful’ response which will not violate agreements between Israel and Hezbollah, may mean that Israel plans to carry out an unprecedented attack against Iran itself.