cyber warfare

Israel reportedly destroyed hundreds of Iranian UAVs; Tehran claims it foiled Mossad plot to sabotage Fordo uranium facility.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

A massive cyberattack on Israeli government websites on Monday, as well as a missile strike on a U.S. consulate in Iraq may have been Iranian revenge for an Israeli attack on a drone facility and an unsuccessful attempt to sabotage Iran’s Fordo uranium enrichment facility.

Haaretz reported that hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) were destroyed at a military base near Kermanshah, in western Iranian in February. Iran claims the base was attacked by six Israeli drones. Israeli officials have not commented.

According to Al-Mayadeen, a Hezbollah-run TV station in Lebanon, the strike on the drone base was the reason Iran fired ballistic missiles at the U.S. consulate in Erbil, Iraq on Saturday night. No injuries were reported.

Tehran claimed that the Mossad was operating a training facility there, an accusation echoed by Iran’s proxy militias in Iraq. No evidence has been offered, however.

The accusation opens the door for further attacks on Kurdistan by Iran and its allied militias. The Kurds seek independence and are friendly with Israel.

Purported Fordo Incident

Meanwhile, Iran also claimed it foiled an Israeli attempt to sabotage the underground uranium enrichment facility in Fordo. Iranian media reported security forces arrested a Mossad team. Iran frequently arrested local opposition figures on trumped up charges of collaborating with Israel.

Israel regards Fordo as one of the most important Iranian nuclear facilities. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran’s breakout time — the time necessary to purify a sufficient amount of uranium — is down to four weeks. Iran’s uranium stocks are at 60 percent purity — far higher than the 3.67% necessary for a civilian nuclear program. A nuclear weapon requires uranium enriched to 90% purity.

Enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordo are where the final purification would take place. Natanz is buried underneath a mountain while Fordo is located deep underground.

The alleged attempt against Fordo was apparently Iran’s justification for a cyberattack on Israeli government websites on Tuesday. The attack hit websites using the gov.il domain used by government ministries and the Prime Ministers office.

The websites were restored after being down for about one hour. Officials called it the largest cyberattack against Israeli government websites.

The National Cyber Directorate declared a state of emergency. Authorities were also checking to see if key infrastructure, such as water and electricity, was compromised.

According to an Iranian media report cited by the Jerusalem Post, a hacker group affiliated with Iran called Black Shadow has claimed responsibility. In November, the Black Shadow group uploaded and leaked personal information from the database of Atraf, an Israeli LGBTQ dating service. Atraf, which had 690,000 members, refused to pay a $1 million ransom.