Jews in Britain Decry Inadequate Security After Bomb Attacks
LONDON — BRITAIN'S 300,000-strong Jewish community wants the government to tighten border controls to prevent Islamic extremists from carrying out actions believed to be part of an international terrorist campaign.
Pressure for a crackdown came after two bomb attacks on Jewish targets in London within 24 hours - one on the Israeli Embassy near the city center, the other on the offices of a Jewish charity in a northern suburb. The two blasts injured 19 people.
The government said yesterday that it had received a claim from Hamas, an extremist Palestinian group, that it had carried out the embassy attack. Hamas denied claiming responsibility.
In the wake of the two explosions, Sir Paul Condon, London's police commissioner, said more than 100 Jewish-owned buildings in the British capital had been placed under round-the-clock surveillance by armed police. He warned that the two attacks had been carried out by ``potential suicide bombers'' who might try to strike again.
Eldred Tabachnik, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said yesterday a ``deliberate campaign of violence and terror'' was being waged against Britain's Jewish community. He said the London explosions appeared to be part of an international campaign, including the July 18 attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which an estimated 96 people died, and an air crash in Panama, caused by a bomb, that killed 12 Jewish businessmen.
The attack on the Israeli Embassy shattered windows at Kensington Palace, a royal residence half a mile from where four members of the Queen's family were staying.
Greville Janner, a senior member of the Parliament and leading Jewish spokesman, urged the government to ban known members of Hamas and all other terrorist bodies from entering Britain. ``The government must take immediate action here and internationally,'' he said. Mr. Janner blamed the attacks on Islamic extremists opposed to the Arab-Israeli peace process.
The car used in the first bomb blast had been parked outside the embassy building shortly before it exploded. Police said they were searching for the driver - believed to be a woman of Middle Eastern appearance. The car bomb in north London was also parked outside the targeted building.
Commander David Tucker, head of the Anti-Terrorist Squad, could not explain how a vehicle containing a 30-pound bomb had been able to evade security checks near the Israeli Embassy.
Israel's ambassador to London, Moshe Raviv, said countries outside the Middle East must remain constantly vigilant as Islamic extremists try to derail the Arab-Israel peace process.
``These terrorist attacks will continue and they have to be fought actively,'' he said.
Israeli officials and Jewish spokesmen in Britain criticized police handling of security for potential Jewish targets.
Mr. Tabachnik said his board had approached police a month earlier, after an alert from the Middle East that terrorist attacks against Britain's Jewish community could be expected. ``They did not ... agree with our analysis,'' he said. ``I will be seeking a meeting with the home secretary with a view to asking for a review of the whole position of extremist groups coming into this country, and the granting of exclusion orders for undesirables.''
Brig. Gen. Azriel Nevo, Israel's military attache in London and a former military aide to Israeli prime ministers, told Israeli Army radio from London: ``After the first attack it was possible to take all the steps. Our people gave their evaluation to the British authorities that there was a danger now to Jewish institutions.''