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Attacks on Iran

Written by Maidah Tariq 8:46 pm Articles, Current Affairs, International Relations, Published Content

Israel and Its Alleged Attacks on Iran: From Drone Strikes to Cyberattacks

Amid the escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, Maidah Tariq delves into the various attacks Israel has conducted on Iranian soil in the past decade, aimed at undermining Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has repeatedly reported incidences of cyber-intrusions, drone strikes, theft of classified information, and assassinations and attributed them to Israel.
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About the Author(s)
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Ms. Maidah Tariq is a graduate of international relations from National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad, Pakistan. She has a keen interest in the security and foreign policy of China, and Middle Eastern politics.

Israel-Iran Tensions

Iran’s April 13 attack on Israeli soil was a landmark event in the country’s history. A pivotal moment unfolded as Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israeli territory, signaling a dramatic escalation in the ongoing hostility between the two nations. This retaliation, prompted by the deadly Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate in Syria, amplified tensions and raised concerns about further violence amid the Gaza war. The allies in the “Axis of Resistance,” the Palestinian group “Hamas,” the Lebanese terrorist group “Hezbollah,” the armed groups of Syria and Iraq, and the Houthis of Yemen, were involved in launching missiles and drones at Israel.

But if Israel has planned to counterattack Iran, it is not for the first time. Israel has targeted Iran mainly for one reason, i.e., for its nuclear program. Israel has accused Iran of building a nuclear bomb, which could be a threat to its existence, and has spoken publicly about its intelligence-driven and diplomatic efforts to prevent those alleged plans. Contrarily, Iran denies that it possesses a nuclear program while defending its entitlement to utilize a civil nuclear program and maintain its nuclear facilities.

As Israel gets ready to counter, this article delves into the range of attacks Israel carried out on the soil of Iran. From cyber-intrusions to drone strikes to stealing classified information and killing Iranian scientists, Israel has either taken responsibility for some of these actions or been blamed for them.

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Killing of Nuclear Scientists

  • January 2010 Attack

Masoud Ali Mohammadi was a nuclear scientist and a physics professor at Tehran University. A remote-controlled bomb concealed in his motorcycle took his life. The US and Israel were accused of this attack by Iranian state media.

  • November 2010 Attack

Majid Shahriari was a faculty member at the nuclear engineering department of Shah Beheshti University in Tehran. On his way to work, a tragic car explosion ended his life. His wife was also injured. The US and Israel were being blamed for this attack by the then-Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

  • January 2012 Attack

Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was a graduate of chemical engineering. In the city of Natanz, he, as a nuclear scientist, also supervised a department at Iran’s primary uranium enrichment facility. He was killed by a bomb explosion in his car in Tehran. Again, the blame for the attack was being put on the US and Israel by the government.

  • November 2020 Attack

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a prominent nuclear scientist, was assassinated in a roadside attack. Fakhrizadeh had been on the radar of Western and Israeli intelligence for some time. They believed he played a central role in the Iranian nuclear weapons program, resulting in sanctions from the United Nations in 2007 and the US in 2008.

  • May 2022 Attack

In Tehran, Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was shot five times outside his residence. Majid Mirahmadi, a member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, left no room for doubt, alleging that Israel was indeed behind this assassination.

Cyberattacks on Iran

The discovery of the Stuxnet virus in computers at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant marked a crucial event. The virus spread to multiple facilities and impacted around 30,000 computers by September 2010. Approximately 1,000 centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility were reportedly devastated. Gholamreza Jalali, head of Iran’s Passive Defense Organization, attributed the attack to Israel and the US while referring to the virus’s replication of official government files and the ensuing “minor damage” to computer systems.

In November 2011, Iran revealed the detection of a new virus known as Duqu, suspected to be an offshoot of Stuxnet. The virus aimed at gathering intel for potential future cyber operations and attacks in Iran. The Iranian government embarked on checks on computers at key nuclear sites, with experts extensively linking Duqu to Israel.

The US and Israel have also been accused by Iran of deploying the Wiper malware. According to the details released by Kaspersky Lab in April 2012, the malware targeted the Ministry of Petroleum and the National Iranian Oil Company, causing the removal of data from hard drives.

The announcement of the Flame virus, designed to steal government data from Iranian systems, heightened tensions further in May 2012. Although Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon neither confirmed nor denied involvement, he emphasized the commitment of Israel to leverage all means to obstruct Iran’s nuclear program.

In October 2018, Iran reported blocking a new wave of Stuxnet attacks, attributing them to Israel. Moreover, in October 2021, Iran’s gasoline subsidy scheme was compromised by a cyberattack, impacting all 4,300 gas stations. Customers have to choose between waiting to be reconnected to the central distribution system or paying more. Iran accused the US and Israel of carrying out the strike.

In May 2020, the computer systems of the Shahid Rajaee Port were the subject of a cyberattack, which delayed marine traffic. Although US authorities pointed fingers at Israel, the country never formally accepted blame.

The Alleged Military Operations of Israel: Drone Strikes & Raids in Iran

In January 2018, Israeli agents carried out a clandestine raid in Tehran, obtaining top-secret nuclear documents from a highly secured establishment. Later, a cache of 100,000 papers allegedly demonstrating Iran’s deception over its nuclear goals was revealed by Israeli officials. In February 2022, former Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett admitted in an opinion post that Israel was responsible for the deliberate killing of a senior IRGC commander and the crash of an unmanned aerial vehicle.

In May 2022, the Parchin military base in Tehran was hit by explosive-laden quadcopter drones, causing serious infrastructure damage and fatalities. IRGC Commander Hossein Salami warned of retaliation against unknown foes after the attacks on Iran.

Last year, in January, a number of suicide drones attempted to attack a military facility in the heart of Isfahan but were unable to cause any harm. Iran’s UN representative, Amir Saeid Iravani, hinted at Israeli participation based on early findings, although Iran refrained from making direct charges. In February 2024, Iran’s oil minister, Javad Owji, claimed that Israel was behind an attack on a natural gas pipeline and linked the explosion to a possible Israeli plan.

Conclusion

From assassinations and cyber intrusions to raids and drone strikes, Israel has been continuously attacking Iranian soil and its nuclear program for a very long period of time. In this changing arena, the boundaries of offense and defense merge, weaving a web of geopolitical suspense and ambiguity. As tensions reach a boiling point, the global community remains more vigilant, understanding the gravity of every move in the delicate balance of power.


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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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