ANALYSIS: Covert war between Israel and Iran escalates

Tensions rise with Iranian-backed forces in Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, and Iraq.

Yochanan Visser,

Netanyahu reveals secret Iranian nuclear facility
Netanyahu reveals secret Iranian nuclear facility
Kobi Gideon/GPO

Tensions between Israel and Iran further spiked over the past few days after a series of events in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza while a new Israeli revelation about Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program added to the already tense situation in the Middle East.

On Sunday evening, Iran-backed Shiite militia in Syria attempted to pound the Jewish state with rockets.

This happened after unknown unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) bombed Shiite militias in the Iran-controlled border town of Al-Bukamal on the Syrian Iraqi border. The attack, which was attributed to the Israeli Air Force (IAF), killed 18 members of the Iran-backed militia.

The Israeli army (IDF) kept mum on the attack against Al-Bukamal, which is an important link in the so-called land bridge between the Iranian border in the Nineveh province in Iraq and the Golan Heights in Israel that Iran has been trying to establish for years.

The IDF did, however, confirm that Shiite militias in the Damascus region were behind the failed rocket attack on northern Israel.

All rockets launched on Sunday fell on Syrian territory and did cause no damage to Israeli communities at the Golan Heights.

Something similar happened on May 10, 2018, when more than 30 rockets were launched from Syria to northern Israel and only four reached the Golan Heights and the city of Safed.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military apparently carried out another mission in Iraq.

Sky News and Arab media reported a huge blast in a weapon depot belonging to Iran-backed militias in the Anbar Province which killed 21 militia fighters.

Prior to the explosion, the sound of a UAV was heard in the area, an Iraqi officer told local media.

Then there are the tensions with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which spiked again last weekend after the terror organization downed an unmanned Israeli reconnaissance aircraft in Lebanese airspace.

Hezbollah had already announced it would take measures to prevent Israeli planes from using Lebanese airspace for actions in Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, furthermore, said his organization and other Iran-supported groups are in the midst of a "major campaign" against the Jewish state.

The IDF, for its part, started a large-scale military exercise on Monday to prepare for a multiple front war against Hezbollah and its Iranian-backed allies in Syria and Gaza.

On the latter front, there were also new developments this weekend which the IDF sees as new evidence that Iran is pulling the strings in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, for the first time, used an UAV to bomb an IDF base near Gaza.

The UAV managed to drop a bomb on one of the base buildings, but it only caused light damage to the structure. Iran is a world leader in the use of UAVs for military missions and recently decided to give Hamas $ 30 million a month to continue its war of attrition against Israel.

The UAV attack almost led to a new confrontation between the terrorist groups in Gaza and the IDF after the Israeli combat aircraft carried out a retaliatory attack on Hamas targets and Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad reacted with new rocket launches on civilian targets in southern Israel. Hamas later also downed an Israeli UAV above the southern Gaza Strip.

On Monday evening, Israel scored another victory in the psychological war with Iran.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced during a press conference that Israel had discovered a new secret Iranian nuclear facility south of the city of Isfahan.

The facility in the Abadeh region was already discovered in January 2018, during the Mossad operation in the Iranian nuclear archive in Tehran and had been used for the development of a nuclear weapon, Netanyahu claimed.

The Prime Minister then said that between June, when an Israeli espionage took satellite photos of the Abadeh complex and September 2019 Iran destroyed the entire facility to erase any radioactive traces.

Netanyahu reiterated that Israel knows exactly what Iran is planning to do, where and when, and called on the international community to "wake up."

Only "pressure, pressure and pressure" can stop Iran's march towards the bomb and its aggression in the region, the Israeli leader warned.

His revelation is undoubtedly true, just as he was right when he claimed at the end of last year that Iran had an undeclared nuclear storage in Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna has now asked Iran for clarification after its inspectors had taken soil samples at the Tehran facility unveiled by Netanyahu.

These monsters contained traces of uranium, according to Western diplomats who spoke to Reuters. The Iranians, however, refuse to respond to the IAEA request.

The timing of Netanyahu's latest revelation about the Iranian nuclear program led to speculation in the Israeli media and opposition about hidden motives such as the impending Israeli election.

The real reason for the revelation at the moment, however, appears to be President Donald Trump's alleged intention to start negotiations with the Iranian regime and a French plan to save the Iranian economy.

Trump has hinted that he is prepared to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next month.

Netanyahu, however, has already announced that this is not the right time to start negotiations with Iran as the country's economy is about to collapse and the "maximum pressure" campaign is starting to pay off.

Israel is also strongly opposed to French President Emanuel Macron's plan to provide Iran with a 15 billion Euro credit line on condition that Iran will once again comply with the provisions of the 2015 nuclear agreement, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Netanyahu's revelation about the Abadeh nuclear complex is new evidence that Iran is not adhering to the so-called NPT, the treaty against the proliferation of nuclear weapons which the Islamic Republic signed. The revelation also proves that Iran again violated the provisions of the JCPOA.

Iran has already committed three violations of the JCPOA after the US government decided to quit the nuclear agreement. The most recent offense is the Iranian intention to start producing highly enriched uranium again through new centrifuges which can considerably shorten the break-out time to a nuclear bomb.

The International Atomic Agency, however, continues to claim that Iran is cooperative with the UN organization.




top