Bulgaria is prepared to release an investigative report that will blame Hezbollah and Iran for the Burgas terror attack that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian national.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the report, which comes nearly seven months after the attack, will be released sometime this week. On Tuesday, Bulgaria’s Interior Minister will brief senior members of the Bulgarian government on the report.
The impending report will likely serve as a strong catalyst for those pushing to have the European Union designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In addition, it will provide vindication to Israel, which had declared immediately after the attack that Hezbollah and Iran were responsible.
The latest news regarding the investigation comes just a few weeks after Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister briefed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on the investigation. At the time of the visit, Reuters reported that political sources in Bulgaria believed that the results of the inquiry could be released as early as Feb. 5.
Not long after this meeting, Israel’s Channel 2 reported that Bulgaria would blame Hezbollah for the attack, but Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry denied the report. On Jan. 22, however, just five days after Israeli officials were briefed, Al Hayat reported that Bulgaria had told European officials that Hezbollah was responsible.
The Burgas attack
On July 18, 2012, the 18th anniversary of the Buenos Aires AMIA bombing, a bomb (it is unclear if it was a suicide bomber) exploded as Israeli tourists boarded buses at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria. Five Israelis and one Bulgarian national were killed in the attack, which wounded dozens.
While Bulgaria’s Interior Minister said that the bombing was “a deliberate attack,” Israeli officials quickly pointed the finger at Iran and Hezbollah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first statement declared: “All signs point towards Iran.”
Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee countered by saying Israel had carried out the attack. “Such [a] terrorist operation could only be planned and carried out by the same regime whose short history is full of state terrorism operations and assassinations aimed at implicating others for narrow political gains,” he claimed.
Despite Iranian allegations, American and Israeli officials were soon fairly certain that the attack had been carried out by Hezbollah with direction from Iran. “Israeli intelligence has evidence of many telephone calls between Lebanon and Burgas in the two months before the bombing… with the volume intensifying in the three days leading up to it,” the New York Times reported in early August.
Since May 2011, over 20 attacks tied to Iran and Hezbollah against Israelis and Jews abroad have been thwarted.