Israeli tourists defiant after Bulgaria terror attack

By Jennifer Lipman, July 24, 2012

Hundreds of Jewish tourists shared a Friday night meal in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas days after five Israelis were killed in a terror attack.

The meal was hosted by Chabad rabbi Yosef Solomon, who has also been helping the wounded and their families, as well as supporting Israeli rescue workers.

Around 135,000 Israelis visited Bulgaria last year, a number that was expected only to increase, but reports in the Israeli media have suggested that some have cancelled bookings in reaction to the attack.

But Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who visited Sofia on Monday to meet Jewish communal leaders and Bulgarian leaders, pledged that the attack would not deter Israelis from travelling to the country.

"After what happened in Burgas, we will continue to travel as tourists - in Israel and in Bulgaria and wherever else we wish," said Mr Misezhnikov. "We will not reward the terrorist act. We will not react to it with fear."

Repeating an accusation made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he blamed "international terrorism - financed and supported by Iran and other countries connected with Iran" for the bomb, which also killed the Bulgarian bus driver.

"This is the common enemy of all countries which fight for freedom worldwide, and we must confront this enemy together," he added.

Prime Minister Boiko Borisov told him: "Israeli tourists are important for us, not just for economic reasons, but because for them Bulgaria is like a second home country - they feel good here."

Last updated: 11:39am, July 24 2012