LONDON -- Metropolitan Police mounted round-the-clock armed protection yesterday against potential suicide bombers at more than 100 Jewish and Israeli sites here after two car-bomb attacks in less than 24 hours injured 19 people.
Security was being tightened in other cities, including Washington, where the State Department said it was working "closely with the Israeli Embassy, the Secret Service and local law enforcement to ensure that Israeli diplomatic facilities in the United States receive increased protection."
In London, Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon said the car bombs that blew up at the Israeli Embassy Tuesday and at the Israeli Joint Appeal office early yesterday were set off so quickly that terrorists "had to be prepared to forfeit their own lives and the lives of anyone in the vicinity."
Given the power of the bombs-- 20 to 30 pounds of Semtex or TNT -- police said they were surprised that casualties were not more severe.
"It's amazing that we have not
sustained any loss of life," said David Veness, Mr. Condon's deputy. "These were incredibly cold-hearted attacks."
Jewish leaders and Israeli officials had criticized the lack of parking restrictions at potential targets. And in an interview with Israeli army radio after the second bombing, Brig. Gen. Azriel Nevo, the military attache at the London embassy, criticized British authorities for not acting on Israeli warnings.
"It's really a true blunder of the locals here," General Nevo said.
Commissioner Condon said that he was not going to get into "an exchange of recriminations." He said that he was working with the Jewish community and the Israeli ambassador to combat the threat of terrorism.
"We are now facing within the last 24 hours a new specific threat, and we are responding to it," he said. He said that he would not create a "fortress London" but that the response would be "realistic and robust."
"We live in a free city," the commissioner said. "We are not prepared to operate a totally oppressive regime. It has to be a sensible, measured response."