Fox News has confirmed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office Thursday that there was no credence to news media reports of an assassination attempt against him while visiting Africa this week.
Extra security has followed the Israeli leader abroad, given high threats against Israeli targets around the world. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in Tel Aviv in 1995.
The Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida quoted an anonymous source saying Kenyan security officials changed the route taken by Netanyahu’s delegation from a Nairobi airport to a hotel on Tuesday because an explosive device was found on the original route.
In the first leg of Netanyahu’s four-nation trip, he stopped at Entebbe Airport in Uganda to mark 40 years after the audacious Israeli commando raid there to free more than 100 hostages of an Air France flight that had been hijacked by Palestinian and German militants. The prime minister’s brother, Lt. Col. Jonathan Netanyahu, was killed in the historic rescue operation on July 4, 1976.
Netanyahu’s visit is the first to sub-Saharan Africa by a sitting Israeli prime minister in nearly three decades. He has visited Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda while pursuing closer security and other ties with African nations.
Israel also wants African states to support it at the United Nations, where the Palestinians were recognized as a non-member observer state in 2012.
Netanyahu and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said Thursday they would renew cooperation in the fight against extremism, and they signed agreements to increase ties in technology, agriculture and more.
Desalegn also invited Ethiopian Jews living in Israel to come to Ethiopia and invest. Ethiopian Jews have complained of discrimination in Israeli society, and hundreds recently demonstrated against what they called Israeli police brutality.
“Israel has a special place in Ethiopia and Ethiopia has a special place in Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Israel played a prominent role in assisting newly independent African countries in the 1960s, but relations crumbled in the 1970s when Arab countries, promising aid, pressured African nations to cut ties.