Uruguayan authorities removed what is being described as an “incomplete” explosive device left near the Israeli Embassy in that country. While the artifact itself was deemed harmless due to faulty construction, it is the third such bomb scare for that nation’s Israeli Embassy this year.
Military spokesperson Yamandú Lessa explained to media that the device did not contain explosive materials, but a “power source” and cable that appeared to have been an attempt at an explosive. The pieces were inside a can of sardines, which was destroyed by a high-pressure water cannon. Canine police initially alerted officials to its presence near the embassy. He added that, should the box have contained explosives, it was left in “not a bad place” to cause significant damage to the embassy.
Williams García, head of Uruguay’s Office of Public Safety, told reports that this “was the third case registered in the area and, even if it was not possible for it to cause any harm, one has to think that these sorts of things cause alarm and concern in the area and the entire neighborhood.”
The incident follows a turbulent first half of the year, when a suitcase left near the vicinity of the embassy caused alarm and triggered a row with Iranian representatives in the country. In February, Uruguay increased security around the embassy in response to the found luggage, as well as requesting that the government of Israel help protect the area in light of the incident. It also expelled a senior-level Iranian diplomat in light of the news, who was suspected of having planted the suitcase. In response to that accusation, the Iranian government claimed that Israel had planted the suitcase themselves to trigger negative international attitudes towards Iran. “Tehran has said in the past that Tel Aviv has ordered attacks against its own embassies in India and Georgia in order to damage Iran’s image in the host countries,” Tehran said in a statement.
Uruguayan police later discovered that a sanitation worker had left the suitcase in the area where it had threatened the embassy, though no ties were revealed between the worker and the Iranian diplomat.
Uruguay has been struggling to balance its relations with both the Israeli government and adversarial governments, like Iran, as well as an influx of Muslim Syrian refugees and the relocation of six former Guantánamo Bay prisoners. Under former President José Mujica, Uruguay began to take in a large population of Syrian refugees. The program was eventually halted due to “cultural differences,” including prevalence of domestic violence.