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Jordan makes arrests for failed attack on Israel diplomats

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Jordanian authorities have made a number of arrests in connection with Thursday's failed roadside bombing attack on an Israeli diplomatic convoy. Although the attack caused no injuries, the kind of bomb and the intelligence required to make such an attack are raising concerns about security breaches among Jordanian and Israeli authorities.

The Jerusalem Post writes that according to Arabic media reports, Jordanian security officials have arrested a cab driver believed to have planted the bomb along the road between Amman and the Jordanian-Israeli border. The Post also cites a report that officials have also made several other arrests in connection with the bombing.

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The attack took place around 6 p.m. Thursday, near the village of Naour (see map here), which lies about 12 miles from the Jordanian-Israeli border. The convoy was carrying three Israeli diplomats, though Daniel Nevo, Israel's ambassador to Jordan, was not among them. But while no one was hurt in the attack, the tactic is new in Jordan, writes Haaretz.

Thursday's bombing was the first time a roadside explosive device was used in an attack in Jordan, where suicide bombings and shootings have targeted foreigners in recent years. The method is widespread in neighboring Iraq.
The sundown attack also exposed a security breach for Israeli diplomats, who are usually escorted by security personnel from both countries and use different routes and departure times during their occasional travels in Jordan.
The explosion ripped through the right side of a curvy road cutting through hilly villages on the western outskirts of the capital, Amman. The blast left a large hole about 3 feet deep and damaged a highway guardrail.

YnetNews reports that one Jordanian official called the attack "a message" to Jordanian authorities and a sign that Jordan's security establishment could be infiltrated. An analysis by Haaretz says that at the very least, the perpetrators had "very good intelligence."

They knew that many Israeli diplomats, who normally live in Amman without their families, usually depart for Israel for the weekend on Thursday afternoon, and they knew how to identify the two-car convoy

.

This sort of information requires thorough preparation and surveillance of the embassy's routine activities. Consequently, it can be assumed that some of the rings of security around the embassy, which is one of the most threatened Israeli embassies because it is situated in an Arab state, have been penetrated.
On the other hand, the explosive device caused relatively little damage to the cars. This may stem from its limited strength, from some problem with the device itself, or from poorly timed detonation.

Haaretz's analysis speculates that the parties most likely responsible for the attack are either Hizbullah or Sunni extremists.

But Al Jazeera suggests that souring attitudes toward Israel within the Jordanian public may be a factor as well. Al Jazeera's Jerusalem correspondent Jacky Rowland says that despite Jordan having a peace treaty with Israel, "Relations have been cool at best, hostile at worst since the peace treaty was signed just over 15 years ago."

"I think the point at which relations really started to cool was as people in Jordan really saw that no progress was being made in efforts to have a peace treaty between Israel and Palestinians.
"Then, relations hit an all-time low with the Israeli crackdown on the Palestinian uprising which began in 2000, and since then the Israeli seige on Gaza and the war on Gaza just over year ago.
"In a recent opinion poll in Jordan not a single person interviewed gave Israel a favourable rating or said they were willing to accept Israel or engage with it in any way."


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