Israel is taking the fight to Iranian soil according to a politician on the ground there.
By Pesach Benson, United with Israel
In recent months, Israel has escalated its shadow war with Iran. Instead of hitting only proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel is taking the fight to Iranian soil in what Jerusalem refers to as the “Octopus Doctrine.”
“We no longer play with the tentacles, with Iran’s proxies: we’ve created a new equation by going for the head,” then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told The Economist in June.
The doctrine’s goals?
To weaken and discredit the Iranian regime in the eyes of the public, create disarray within its security apparatus, and make Tehran itself pay a price for attacks by its regional proxies. That’s the context behind the assassination of several key Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel on Iranian soil and in Syria.
“It feels as if Israel has established a large-scale organization in Tehran and freely runs its operations,” an Iranian reformist politician told the Financial Times in a report published on Tuesday. “Israel is clearly targeting Iran’s ‘highly secure’ image to tarnish its greatness in people’s eyes.”
The escalation is clearly having a trickle down effect on the Iranian public, which the FT says now feels less secure.
“Who gives information to Israelis? Those inside the system must be doing it,” said Ali, a bazaar merchant. “We feel safe, but then who knows; maybe the system is falling apart from inside similar to the USSR.”
The IRGC is tasked with defending the clerical regime, preventing Iran’s army from seizing power and protecting the Islamic Republic from foreign meddling. It is believed to have more than 250,000 military personnel.
The Biden administration’s refusal to remove the IRGC from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations has been a key snag in the foundering Iranian nuclear talks.
Attacking the Octopus’s Head
But the terror designation is not the only reason June was an especially bad month for the IRGC. The following also occurred:
• IRGC intelligence chief Hossein Taeb was fired. He was responsible for, among other things, exposing Israeli espionage within Iran.
• An Iranian terror cell plotting attacks on Israelis was busted by Turkish authorities.
• Five men aboard an Iranian plane were arrested in Argentina on suspicion of weapons smuggling.
• A cyber attack on a state-owned steel factory brought the production line to a halt.
• A ballistic missile site west of Tehran was attacked by a drone reportedly launched from within Iran.
• A massive tunnel project to protect Iran’s uranium enrichment was exposed.
• IRGC Brig.-Gen. Ali Nasiri was arrested on accusations of spying for Israel.
A number of IRGC officers and aerospace personnel were also assassinated in May.
An Israeli official told the New York Times that Taeb’s dismissal is especially noteworthy as he was widely viewed as “untouchable.”
In a rare interview and admission of clandestine activity in Iran, Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata told Channel 13 on Thursday that Israel “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 US is backing us. We are acting with logic and responsibility, and everyone can see this isn’t harming the relationship between the US president and Israel — on the contrary,” Hulata said.
As the shadow war comes more out in the open, the rhetoric between Jerusalem and Tehran is also escalating.
Speaking at the installment of the new Homefront Command chief on Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said that “diplomacy may fail, and a military option is a moral imperative.”
That prompted Kamal Kharazi, a senior advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to confirm that “Iran can breakout to a nuclear weapon within a very short time.”
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