Will Iran strike Diaspora Jews to avenge losses in Syria?

Jewish communities outside of Israel fear Iranian reprisals against Israel could take form of attack on Diaspora Jews.

David Rosenberg ,

Flash 90

Iranian forces or terrorist groups linked to Iran may target Jewish communities outside of Israel, following a series of Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets inside Syria late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

The Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force has established a significant presence in war-torn Syria in recent years, initially with the aim of bolstering Iran’s ally, Bashar al-Assad, in the face of the ISIS threat and continuing attempts by various rebel forces to seize control over parts of the country.

But Iran has also used its growing presence in Syria as a forward base for attacks on Israel.

Twice in recent months, Iranian forces operating out of Syria have attacked Israel.

In February, an armed Iranian unmanned aircraft penetrated Israeli airspace, only to be shot down by Israeli forces.

On Wednesday, Revolutionary Guard forces fired roughly 20 rockets from Syrian territory at northern Israel, prompting the largest Israeli air raid on Syria in decades.

According to Russian sources, Israeli fighter planes fired 60 missiles at a dozen targets across Syria, killing 18 Iranian soldiers, along with 5 members of the Syrian military.

In April, Israeli forces also hit Iranian assets stationed at the T-4 airbase in Syria.

Israeli security officials estimate that Iran’s military capabilities in Syria suffered a serious blow in the recent attacks, leaving Tehran with limited options for a direct strike on Israel to “avenge” its recent losses.

Iran could retaliate as it has in the past, via a proxy like the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah, which relies heavily on its patron, Iran.

But Israeli forces have repeatedly struck Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah, and while the group is believed to have amassed an enormous arsenal of as many as 150,000 rockets and missiles along Israel’s northern border, many Hezbollah terror cells have been recently deployed to Syria to bolster the Assad regime’s efforts to end the civil war.

Another option would mark a return to Iran’s use of Hezbollah for attacks against “soft” Jewish targets outside of Israel.

In the early 1990s, a string of bombing attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets outside of Israel were attributed to Hezbollah, with signs the attacks were directed by Iran.

The 1992 suicide bombing attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires left 29 dead and hundreds more injured. The terror group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, while Israeli security officials believed Hezbollah and Iran were also involved in the attack, which was carried out following the targeted assassination of a senior Hezbollah leader.

Two years later, a Jewish cultural center, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) was destroyed in a car-bombing in Buenos Aires. The attack killed roughly 90 people and left hundreds more injured. Hezbollah and Iran were both suspected of orchestrating the attack.

In 2012, a suicide bomber killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian in an attack in Burgas, Bulgaria which targeted a group of Israeli tourists. Dozens of Israeli tourists were injured in the attack. Hezbollah terrorists were implicated in the attack, and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused Iran of plotting the attack, saying it was part of a “global Iranian terror onslaught”.

According to a report by Yediot Ahronot, Israeli and non-Israeli Jewish targets abroad are beefing up security amid fears that Iran could target Jewish communities outside of Israel through a proxy group like Hezbollah.

Jewish schools, synagogues, and Israeli embassies around the world are reportedly taking extra security precautions following the escalation between Israel and Iran this week, while Israeli emissaries abroad have been instructed to be alert at all times, and to change their routines frequently.

Israeli embassies, consulates, and Jewish institutions in Africa, Asia, and South America have all recently requested assistance from local governments in tightening up security, the report claimed.