Senior government officials, the ambassador of Israel and leaders of the Bulgarian Jewish community were among those who took part in a July 18 commemoration at Bourgas Airport of the terrorist attack there six years earlier.
In the attack on a group of Israeli tourists, five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver died, and more than 32 Israelis were seriously injured. An international investigation led by Bulgaria established that the military wing of Hezbollah was behind the terrorist attack.
After numerous false starts, a trial in absentia of Meliad Farah, holder of Australian and Lebanese citizenship, and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, a Canadian passport-holder, got underway in December 2017. It is still proceeding.
Those attending the annual commemoration in 2018 included Bourgas governor Vulcho Cholakov, Deputy Interior Minister Stefan Balabanov, Interior Ministry chief secretary Mladen Marinov, the head of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party’s parliamentary group Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Sabetai Varsanov, head of the Bourgas branch of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” and Ognyan Zlatev, head of the European Commission office in Bulgaria.
The ambassador of the State of Israel, Irit Lilian, said that there was no forgiveness for those who had given protection to the terrorist organisation and called for justice to triumph.
Referring to the continuing trial, she said: “We believe in the justice system in Bulgaria and believe that the court will deal with justice with the guilty from Hezbollah. We believe that, even if it takes time, sometimes justice needs time, eventually we will reach it and those people, we hope, will be condemned for the terrible deeds they committed”.
Deputy Foreign Minister Georg Georgiev, who is also Bulgaria’s National Coordinator for Combating Antisemitism, said that Bulgaria had responded in a very bold and appropriate way and thanks to the Borissov government of the time, July 18 2012 had been a turning point in the work of the country’s security services.
But there was no call for complacency and “we cannot rely on the idea that terrorism will simply disappear”. Terrorism had to be prosecuted and subjected to systematic erasure. “Only then will we have a world of peace and progress,” Georgiev said.