Jerusalem, July 20 — The bodies of the five Israelis killed in Wednesday’s bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria were flown back to Israel and buried today in funerals across the country. U.S. and Israeli officials blamed Iran-backed Hezbollah for the bombing, which also killed a Bulgarian tour guide.
Throughout last night’s official state ceremony, audible cries from the victims’ family members could be heard over those officiating. Flag-draped coffins were carried from the plane by Israel Defense Forces soldiers, who placed them in front of a crowd gathered for the duration of the ceremony.
Bulgarian media reports initially identified the bomber as a Swedish citizen, but Swedish and Bulgarian authorities have denied that claim. Authorities are now using the bomber’s fingerprints, DNA and fake Michigan driver’s license to identify him. American officials said yesterday that the bomber was a Hezbollah operative, backing up claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made since the attack was carried out.
“For over a year, Iran, along with its protégé Hezbollah, has been waging an international terror campaign,”Netanyahu said in a television message yesterday, calling Iran “the world’s number one exporter of terror” and Hezbollah its “long arm.”
Yesterday, Netanyahu released the second statement in two days that ultimately blamed Iran for the suicide attack: "Yesterday's attack in Bulgaria was perpetrated by Hezbollah, Iran's leading terrorist proxy. This attack was part of a global campaign of terror carried out by Iran and Hezbollah. This terror campaign has reached a dozen countries on five continents. The world's leading powers should make it clear that Iran is the country that stands behind this terror campaign.
He added, “Iran must be exposed by the international community as the premiere terrorist-supporting state that it is. And everything should be done to prevent Iran, the world's most dangerous regime, from developing the world's most dangerous weapons. Israel is a strong country and the people of Israel are a strong people. We'll continue to fight the terrorists and to exact a heavy price from those who support them.”
The U.N. Security Council issued a statement yesterday condemning the attack, calling it a
“heinous act.” The Security Council “reaffirmed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”
The attack occurred at about 5:30 p.m. local time, shortly after the group of 154 tourists landed at Burgas’ Sarafovo Airport on a flight from Tel Aviv and boarded several buses to travel to the city’s Globus Hotel. Bulgarian media reported that 44 people were on the bus that was attacked, and that the buses were still in the airport terminal at the time.
Wednesday marked the 18th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Argentine Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed and more than 600 were injured in Argentina’s largest terrorist attack. No one has been charged in connection with the bombing, but evidence points to involvement by Iran and Hezbollah.
Burgas, which lies along the Black Sea, is Bulgaria’s fourth-largest city and is known as a cultural and tourist hub.