A PUBLIC SPAT between arch enemies Israel and Iran is no surprise. But what was unusual this time was that the faceoff happened between their representatives in India.
The trigger? Israeli Ambassador to India Naor Gilon’s description last Thursday of Iran as “the biggest destabiliser in the region”.
A day later, the Iranian Embassy in Delhi responded by slamming the “childish remarks” of Israel’s “evil-minded Zionist envoy”, even referring to what it alleged was the country’s “scandalous involvement in the current Pegasus espionage”.
That night, the Israeli envoy responded that being called “childish” at the age of 57 was a “compliment” before signing off as “Yours proudly, the ‘evil minded Zionist envoy’.”
Not to be left behind, Gilon’s boss and Israel’s Foreign Secretary Alon Ushpiz, who had served as Israeli Ambassador to India earlier, tweeted Saturday: “We still vividly remember how in February 2012 an ‘evil minded’ Iranian death squad attempted to assassinate one of our diplomats in the heart of New Delhi.”
Ushpiz also pointed out that “a fifth grandson has just been born to the ‘childish’ Ambassador Naor Gilon”.
After a Sunday lull, the Iranians hit back Monday, referring to the Pegasus scandal again and warning the Israelis to “end using the said childish tactics to evade from giving the right answers to the valid questions”.
The controversy started after Ambassador Gilon, while addressing his first media briefing in New Delhi last Thursday, responded to questions on the recent meeting between India, Israel, UAE and US.
Referring to the agreement reached between the US, UAE and Israel last year, he said: “The Abraham Accords have huge potential, and in a way, I believe Iran has a lot to do with this, with the fear and sentiment…and common concerns in the region.”
Gilon said: “One of the reasons why our relations with the Gulf countries came to the open was, among other things, the fear and shared concern from Iran. Iran is the biggest destabiliser in the region…”
On Friday, the Iranian Embassy, led by Ambassador Ali Chegeni, took to Twitter with a lengthy press release. “Certainly, great civilizations with great history of peace and coexistence are smarter than falling into the traps of such (a) selfish and blood-thirsty regime with huge records of human rights abuses, killings of children, and the childish remarks of its evil-minded Zionist envoy,” it alleged.
Calling Israel “a terror house”, it alleged that “its illegitimate establishment has been rooted in bloodshed, assassination and massacre of Palestinians and other nations in the Middle East”.
Subsequently, Israeli envoy Gilon tweeted: “Thank you @Iran_in_India. When at 57 someone calls me ‘childish’ and ‘adventurous’, I take it as a compliment. Yours proudly the ‘evil minded Zionist envoy’.”
Foreign Secretary Ushpiz then referred to the 2012 incident. He was the Ambassador when a bomb blast targeted an Israeli diplomat’s car in New Delhi on February 13 that year, injuring the diplomat, a local employee and two passers-by.
On Monday, the Iranian Embassy replied again to what it called “rhetoric and baseless allegations of an adventurous & racist Zionist”.
It claimed that the “Israeli regime is under tremendous pressure…due to its various crimes and wrongdoings including the recent disclosure of the Pegasus scandal in which an Israeli company linked and affiliated to the notorious horrible secret apparatus of that regime is the main accused and sponsor”.
It also said that the “best way to cover up such a disclosure and to divert the public opinion from these catastrophic cases of espionage and other crimes, is…accusing and triggering a propaganda war against others, in particular Iran”.
While accusing Israel of possesssing “the biggest nuclear arsenal with more than 200 Nukes in the Middle East”, the Iranians described their own country as a “great hero in fighting against international terrorism”.
There was no response from the Israeli side till late Monday night.