New Delhi: A blast occurred near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri area, on Tuesday. However, there are no reports of any injuries in the incident. Teams from the Delhi Police’s special cell, fire services, and the National Investigation Agency have rushed to the spot to investigate the scene of the incident.
Although the police said no traces of any explosive were found at the blast site, they found pieces of shrapnel from the spot. They said the possibility of a “chemical explosion” could not be ruled out.
Guy Nir, the Israeli embassy spokesman, confirmed that a blast took place close to the embassy building on Tuesday evening, adding that the Delhi Police and the security teams were investigating the situation. However, there is some confusion regarding the timing of the explosion. Some media outlets citing him reported that the blast took place at 5.48pm while Reuters cited him as saying that it took place at around 5.20pm.
A Delhi Police source told reporters that an “abusive” letter written in English and addressed to the Israeli ambassador was found near the explosion site. The police source told reporters that the letter has been sent to the forensics laboratory to check for fingerprints.
Media outlets citing the police source as saying: “It is a one-page letter written in English. It is suspected to be related to some organization with the name ‘Sir Allah Resistance’, and some words like ‘Zionists’, ‘Palestine’, and ‘Gaza’ were mentioned in it.”
Following the incident, Israel has upgraded its travel advisory for citizens in India. In its advisory, Tel Aviv has asked its citizens to avoid crowded places, like malls and markets, and skip big events. It feared that the explosion was a “possible attack” and can happen again [targeting Israelis in India].
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Israel’s National Security Headquarters urged Israelis in India, especially in Delhi, to stay alert, avoid “displaying Israeli symbols” in public and not post their trip details or photos on social media. This comes following the NHS’s advice earlier this month in which it urged Israelis to reconsider all their non-essential overseas travel and avoid conspicuous displays of their Jewish identity amid the Israeli campaign in Gaza.
Indian authorities launched an investigation on a blast registered near the Israeli embassy in #NewDelhi .— Viory (@Vioryvideo) December 27, 2023
Police ‘reportedly’ found letter addressed to the ambassador of #Israel a few metres away from the building, which allegedly refers to the Israeli conflict in #Palestine. pic.twitter.com/lsdQBRSlKH
The Delhi Police, on Wednesday, said two youths were caught on camera walking on the road close to the spot shortly before Tuesday evening’s explosion near the Israeli embassy.
According to a Delhi Police officer, CCTV footage recovered from near the spot shows two youths walking on the road shortly before the explosion took place. However, the officer said it is yet to be ascertained whether they are suspects.
Agencies have intensified their probe into the low-intensity explosion and tightened the security in New Delhi, especially in and around the Chanakyapuri diplomatic enclave. They have also gathered several CCTV footage from the lanes of Abdul Kalam Road and Prithviraj Road.
Although no one was injured in the blast, agencies are taking no chances with the security of foreign citizens, especially those from Israel in India. Israel has issued an advisory to its citizens to avoid crowded places and skip attending large events. Indian authorities have also advised them and the citizens to be alert.
The Chanakyapuri area where the blast took place has since been reopened to the public.
Memories of 2021 blast
Tuesday’s blast brought back memories of the January 29, 2021 low-intensity blast outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi. The incident had stunned the international community then.
Just like Tuesday’s blast, nobody was killed or injured in the explosion. However, the blast left a crater and damaged three cars that were parked near the site.
At that time, Israel had blamed Iran for the blast. Even at that time, a letter was found at the blast site. It said the attack was to avenge the killing of Iran’s Iran Quds commander Major General Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated outside the Baghdad airport in Iraq in a US drone strike on January 3, 2020.
The National Investigation Agency is still investigating the case.
[Note: This story has been updated at 7.43pm, Wednesday, December 27, 2023.]