Bomb threat shuts down US embassy in Tel Aviv
Israel, Politics, 12/31/1998
For the first time in decades, the US embassy in Tel Aviv was shut down after "serious" warnings were received that a bombing attack was to take place against the compound on Thursday.
US Ambassador to Israel, Ed Walker, decided to shut down the premises after the phone call which, according to Israeli and US security sources, was found "serious and authentic." The US embassy in Israel, located in the Yarkon Street in Tel Aviv, is heavily guarded by American security guards and Israeli police. In the early eighties, following a series of suicide bombings against US targets in Lebanon, the embassy underwent a new wave of fortification with extra security measures being implemented against all visitors.
Israel radio first broke the story of the threat in its morning news service. It later said that the American officials decided to investigate the source of the threat on their own. They have sought the help of the Central Intelligence Agency and the only help they asked Israel for was to locate the source of the telephone call in which an anonymous caller said a car bomb will be detonated against the embassy on Thursday. Immediately after the call was taken, the ambassador ordered to shut down the embassy and sent all the staff home. On Friday, the embassy is closed for the New Year Celebrations while Saturday and Sunday are the ordinary weekend days. By Monday, American officials hope to solve the mystery of the phone threat so work can return to normal at the embassy.
Following the car bombings of US embassies in Nairoubi and Dar As Salam three months ago, Usama Ben Laden, a renegade Muslim fundamentalist who broke away from his wealthy Saudi family and has reportedly been living in Afghanistan, was blamed for the attacks. Ben Laden has not infrastructure in the Occupied Territories or in Israel but lately press speculations spoke of his attempts to link up with Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It is not clear if such a link was established but Hamas official sources last week stressed last week that they never had any contact with Ben Laden.
Israeli police took position in the streets leading to the US embassy and suspicious cars were checked thoroughly before they were allowed to carry on with their journey along one of Tel Aviv's busiest streets.
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