According to an unnamed Iranian politician, described only as a “reformist,” many Iranians feel that Israel is operating freely in Tehran and easily targeting its assets there, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
“It feels as if Israel has established a large-scale organization in Tehran and freely runs its operations,” the reformist politician was quoted as saying. “Israel is clearly targeting Iran’s ‘highly secure’ image to tarnish its greatness in people’s eyes.”
In recent months, a series of attacks and assassinations in Iran have been blamed on Israel, including the killings of engineers affiliated with Iran’s nuclear program; another on three Iranian steel factories, including the state-owned Khouzestan steel company; and airstrikes on Iranian-affiliated targets in Syria.
Although Israel has not taken credit for any of these actions explicitly, Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata said last week, in a rare interview, that Israel had “acted quite a lot in Iran over the past year.”
“Israel will act as it sees fit. We’ve acted quite a lot in Iran over the past year, and the U.S. is backing us,” Hulata told Israel’s Channel 13. “We are acting with logic and responsibility, and everyone can see this isn’t harming the relationship between the U.S. president and Israel – on the contrary.”
“President Biden has said the whole time that he prefers a diplomatic solution, but that in the absence of other solutions, he will use military force against Iran,” Hulata said. “I’ve heard the U.S. president say this, and one of his famous sayings is that ‘[big] powers don’t bluff’ – so this should be taken seriously.”
The reformist politicians’ comments about Israeli operations in Iran echoed similar sentiments published in The New York Times in late June.
“The security breaches inside Iran and the vast scope of operations by Israel have really undermined our most powerful intelligence organization,” said Mohammad-Ali Abtahi, a former vice president of Iran, reformist and cleric, who was overthrown by Iranian hardliners in 2009, but who the NYT says has maintained close ties to top officials. “The strength of our security has always been the bedrock of the Islamic Republic and it has been damaged in the past year.”
According to the NYT’s review of Iranian media reports, Iranian officials believe that “Israel’s spy network has infiltrated deep into the rank and file of Iran’s security circles, … with Iran’s former minister of intelligence warning last year that officials should fear for their lives.”
The alleged strategy is part of Israel’s alternate-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s “octopus” doctrine.
“The past year saw a turning point in Israel’s strategy vis-à-vis Iran,” Bennett said in June, as prime minister. “In the past year, the State of Israel has taken action against the head of the terrorist octopus and not just against the arms, as was done in previous decades.”
“The days of immunity – in which Iran attacks Israel and spreads terrorism via its regional proxies but remains unscathed – are over. We are taking action, everywhere, at any time, and will continue to do so,” he said.
Despite the revelations of Israeli activities inside Iran – or perhaps because of them – the Iranian regime is not looking to escalate the security situation as it pertains to Israel.
“Iran’s policy remains to work with its proxy forces, and we will not initiate any attacks against Israel if Israel doesn’t attack Lebanon,” the Financial Times quoted an unnamed Iranian regime insider as saying. “It’s not wise for us to fight with Israel. And Zionists also show teeth to attack, but their teeth are not sharp enough to go as far as striking Iran.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.