Israel 'not warned' about London attacks

Israel was not warned about possible terror attacks in London before at least six blasts ripped through the city, Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom said on Thursday.

A foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had said earlier that British police warned the Israeli embassy in London of possible terror attacks minutes before the first explosion.

“There was no early information about terrorist attacks,” Shalom told Israel Army Radio. “After the first explosion an order was given that no one move until things become clear.”

Israel was holding an economic conference in a hotel over the subway stop where one of the blasts occurred. Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was supposed to attend the conference, but “after the first explosion our finance minister received a request not to go anywhere”, Shalom said.

He said he wasn’t aware of any Israeli casualties.

Shalom speculated that attackers might have taken advantage of the fact that police resources were diverted to a meeting of Western leaders.

The Israeli ambassador to London, Zvi Hefetz, said on Thursday that the embassy was in a state of emergency following the explosions in London, with no one allowed to enter or leave.

Danny Biran, an Israeli foreign ministry official, said all phone lines to the embassy were down.

The ministry has set up a situation room to deal with hundreds of phone calls from concerned relatives.
Thousands of Israelis are living in London or visiting the city at this time, Biran said.

Amir Gilad, a Netanyahu aide, told Israel Radio that Netanyahu’s entourage was receiving updates all morning from British security officials, and “we have also asked to change our plans”.

Netanyahu had been scheduled to stay in London until Sunday, but that could change, Gilad said.—Sapa-AP