Iran–Israel proxy conflict

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Iran–Israel proxy conflict
Israel and iran.png
Israel and Iran in the Middle East
Date 3 August 2005 (2005-08-03) – present
(10 years and 1 day)
Location Middle East




Supported by:


Supported by:

Commanders and leaders
Iran Ali Khamenei (2005-present)
Iran Hassan Rouhani (2013-present)
Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013)
Iran Qasem Soleimani (2005-present)
InfoboxHez.PNG Hassan Nasrallah (2005-present)
Israel Benjamin Netanyahu (2009-present)
Israel Ariel Sharon (2005-2006)
Israel Ehud Olmert (2006-2009)

The Israel–Iran proxy conflict[28] or Israeli-Iranian proxy war[29] is the ongoing indirect conflict between Israel and Iran. The conflict is bound in the political struggle of Iranian leadership against Israel and the counter aim of Israel to prevent alleged nuclear weapons from the Iranian government and downgrading its allies and proxies such as Hezbollah party in Lebanon. Iranian forces are operating in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad's government.[30][31] Israel has provided medical treatment for Syrian rebels, including some members of Al-Nusra Front, which has caused strife amongst the Israeli Druze community.[32][33] [34][35][36]

Israel and Syria have observed a truce since Israel reaffirmed its control over most of the Golan Heights in the 1973 war, but the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, has led to several incidents of fire exchange across the once-peaceful borders. The Israeli military is reportedly preparing itself for potential threats should there be a power vacuum in Syria. "After Assad and after establishing or strengthening their foothold in Syria they are going to move and deflect their effort and attack Israel," an Israeli official told The Associated Press in January 2014. Some experts say that while the encroaching militant forces on Israel's border will heighten security measures, the advancements are not likely to create significant changes to Israel’s policy disengagement in the Syria crisis.[37]

Iran, in contact with the U.S. over the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has said that Israel would be at risk if the U.S. and its coalition sought to topple Assad.[38] Hezbollah’s October 7, 2014 attack on Israeli forces, its first declared such operation since 2006, proved the seriousness of the threat.[39] Though the Islamic Republic of Iran has been known for its anti-Israeli stance from the very beginning, its continuous support for Hezbollah evolved into almost a direct confrontation with Israel, as Revolutionary Guards have allegedly infiltrated Lebanon and directly supported Hezbollah during the past decade. The Hamas-dominated Gaza had also been considered a proxy of Iran.[40]


Iranian–Israeli relations have shifted from close ties between Israel and Iran during the era of the Pahlavi dynasty to hostility since the Islamic Revolution. Iran has severed all diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, and its government has not recognized Israel as a state, referring to its government as the "Zionist regime".

The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon resulted in the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) departure from Lebanon. The following creation of Security Zone in South Lebanon has benefited Israeli allies in Lebanon and civilian Israeli population, as Galilee suffered less violent attacks by Hezbollah, than previously by PLO in the 1970s (hundreds of Israeli civilian casualties). Despite this Israeli success in eradicating PLO bases and partial withdraw in 1985, the Israeli invasion had actually increased the severity of conflict with local Lebanese militias and resulted in the consolidation of several local Shia Muslim movements in Lebanon, including Hezbollah and Amal, from a previously unorganized guerrilla movement in the south. Over the years, military casualties of both sides grew higher, as both parties used more modern weaponry, and Hezbollah progressed in its tactics.

Iran supplied the militant organization Hezbollah with substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid while persuading Hezbollah to take an action against Israel.[41][42][43] Hezbollah's 1985 manifesto listed its four main goals as "Israel's final departure from Lebanon as a prelude to its final obliteration"[44] According to reports released in February 2010, Hezbollah received $400 million from Iran.[42] By the early 1990s, Hezbollah, with support from Syria and Iran, emerged as the leading group and military power, monopolizing the directorship of the guerrilla activity in South Lebanon.

In one of the region's oddest pairings, Israel and the Gulf Arab states led by Saudi Arabia increasingly are finding common ground — and a common political language — on their mutual dismay over the prospect of a nuclear deal in Geneva that could curb Tehran's atomic program but leave the main elements intact, such as uranium enrichment.[45] In January 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Iran's nuclear program would only be set back six weeks as a result of its interim agreement with the international community.[46]


Iranian aid to Hezbollah and Hamas[edit]


With the election of Iranian hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, relations between Iran and Israel became increasingly tense as the countries engaged in a series of proxy conflicts and covert operations against each other.


An RPG missile found in Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon war with a manufacturing symbol of the Iranian Army.

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Iranian Revolutionary Guards were believed to have directly assisted Hezbollah fighters in their attacks on Israel. Multiple sources suggested that hundreds of Revolutionary Guard operatives participated in the firing of rockets into Israel during the war, and secured Hezbollah's long-range missiles. Revolutionary Guard operatives were allegedly seen operating openly at Hezbollah outposts during the war. In addition, Revolutionary Guard operatives were alleged to have supervised Hezbollah's attack on the INS Hanit with a C-802 anti-ship missile. The attack severely damaged the warship and killed four crewmen. It is alleged that between six and nine Revolutionary Guard operatives were killed by the Israeli military during the war. According to the Israeli media their bodies were transferred to Syria and from there, flown to Tehran.[47] On 6 September 2007, Israeli Air Force destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria.


During and immediately after the Gaza War, the Israeli Air Force, with the assistance of Israeli commandos, was reported to have allegedly carried out three airstrikes against Iranian arms being smuggled to Hamas through Sudan, as Iran launched an intensive effort to supply Hamas with weapons and ammunition. Israel hinted that it was behind the attacks. Two truck convoys were destroyed, and an arms-laden ship was sunk in the Red Sea.[8][48]

On 4 November 2009, Israel captured a ship in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and its cargo of hundreds of tons of weapons allegedly bound from Iran to Hezbollah.


In 2010, a wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists began. The assassinations were widely believed to be the work of Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service. According to Iran and global media sources, the methods used to kill the scientists is reminiscent of the way Mossad had previously assassinated targets. The assassinations were alleged to be an attempt to stop Iran's nuclear program, or to ensure that it cannot recover following a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.[49] In the first attack, particle physicist Masoud Alimohammadi was killed on 12 January 2010 when a booby-trapped motorcycle parked near his car exploded. On 12 October 2010, an explosion occurred at an IRGC military base near the city of Khorramabad, killing 18 soldiers.[50] On 29 November 2010, two senior Iranian nuclear scientists, Majid Shahriari and Fereydoon Abbasi, were targeted by hitmen on motorcycles, who attached bombs to their cars and detonated them from a distance. Shahriari was killed, while Abbasi was severely wounded. On 23 July 2011, Darioush Rezaeinejad was shot dead in eastern Tehran. On 11 January 2012, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan and his driver were killed by a bomb attached to their car from a motorcycle.[51]

In June 2010 Stuxnet, an advanced computer worm was discovered. It is believed that it had been developed by US and Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.[52] In a study conducted by ISIS it is estimated that Stuxnet might have damaged as many as 1,000 centrifuges (10% of all installed) in the Natanz enrichment plant.[53] Other computer viruses and malware, including Duqu and Flame, were reportedly related to Stuxnet.[54][55] Iran claims that its adversaries regularly engineer sales of faulty equipment and attacks by computer viruses to sabotage its nuclear program.[56][57][58]


On 15 March 2011, Israel seized a ship from Syria bringing Iranian weapons to Gaza.[59] In addition, the Mossad was also suspected of being responsible for an explosion that reportedly damaged the nuclear facility at Isfahan. Iran denied that any explosion had occurred, but The Times reported damage to the nuclear plant based on satellite images, and quoted Israeli intelligence sources as saying that the blast indeed targeted a nuclear site, and was "no accident".[60] Hours after the blast took place, Hezbollah fired two rockets into northern Israel. The Israel Defense Forces reacted by firing four artillery shells at the area from where the launch originated. It was speculated that the attack was ordered by Iran and Syria as a warning to Israel.[61] The Israeli attack was reported to have killed 7 people, including foreign nationals.[62] Another 12 people were injured, of whom 7 later died in hospital.[63][64]

During Syrian civil war[edit]


The Mossad was suspected of being behind an explosion at a Revolutionary Guard missile base in November 2011. The blast killed 17 Revolutionary Guard operatives, including General Hassan Moqaddam, described as a key figure in Iran's missile program.[65] Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai wrote that several lower-ranked Iranian missile experts had probably been previously killed in several explosions at various sites.[49]

In response to Israeli covert operations, Iranian agents reportedly began trying to hit Israeli and Jewish targets; potential targets were then placed on high alert. Yoram Cohen, the head of Shin Bet, claimed that three planned attacks in Turkey, Azerbaijan and Thailand were thwarted at the last minute.[66] On 11 October 2011, the United States claimed to have foiled an alleged Iranian plot that included bombing the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington DC and Buenos Aires.[67]


On 13 February 2012, Israeli embassy staff in Georgia and India were targeted. In Georgia, a car bomb failed to explode near the embassy and was safely detonated by Georgian police. In India, the car bomb exploded, injuring four people. Amongst the wounded was the wife of an Israeli Defense Ministry employee.[68] Israel accused Iran of being behind the attacks.[69][70] The following day, three alleged Iranian agents were uncovered in Bangkok, Thailand, thought to have been planning to kill Israeli diplomatic officials, including the ambassador, by attaching bombs to embassy cars. The cell was uncovered when one of their bombs exploded. Police responded, and the Iranian agent present at the house threw an explosive device at officers that tore his legs off, and was subsequently taken into custody. A second suspect was arrested as he tried to catch a flight out of the country, and the third escaped to Malaysia, where he was arrested by Malaysian Federal Police.[71] Thai police subsequently arrested two people suspected of involvement.[72][73] Indian police arrested a Delhi-based journalist in connection with February’s car bomb, which injured four Israelis including the wife of an Israeli diplomat. Syed Mohammed Kazmi the journalist was arrested on 6 March 2012, he is said to have been in contact with a suspect police believe might have stuck a magnetic bomb to the diplomat’s car. It is said Kazmi was an Indian citizen who worked for an Iranian publication.[74]

In late February 2012, WikiLeaks published confidential emails from Stratfor, a US-based private intelligence company, which were stolen by the hacking group Anonymous. Among the information released was a claim that Israeli commandos, in collaboration with Kurdish fighters, destroyed several underground Iranian facilities used for nuclear and defense research projects.[75]

On July 18, 2012, a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria was destroyed in a bombing attack that killed five Israeli tourists and the driver, and injured 32 people. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the attack.[76] In July 2012, a senior Israeli defense official stated that since May 2011, more than 20 terrorist attacks planned by Iranians or suspected Hezbollah agents against Israeli targets worldwide had been foiled, including in South Africa, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Turkey, Thailand, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Nepal, Nigeria, and Peru, and that Iranian and Hezbollah operatives were incarcerated in jails throughout the world.[77][78][79][79][80][81]

On October 6, 2012, Israeli airplanes shot down a small UAV as it flew over northern Negev.[82] Hezbollah confirmed it sent the drone and Nasrallah said in a televised speech that the drone's parts were manufactured in Iran.[83]

On October 24, 2012, Sudan claimed that Israel had bombed a munitions factory, allegedly belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, south of Khartoum.[6][7][84]

In November 2012, Israel reported that an Iranian ship was being loaded with rockets to be exported to countries within range of Israel and that Israel "will attack and destroy any shipment of arms".[85]


In January 2013, rumors were released that the Fordo nuclear plant had been hit by an explosion. Further reports by IAEA concluded that there had been no such incident.[86]

On January 30, 2013, Israeli aircraft allegedly struck a Syrian convoy transporting Iranian weapons to Hezbollah.[87] Other sources stated the targeted site was a military research center in Jamraya responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons.[88]

On April 25, 2013, Israeli aircraft shot down a drone off the coast of Haifa, allegedly belonging to Hezbollah.[89]

Two additional air strikes, also attributed to Israel, reportedly took place on May 3 and 5, 2013. Both allegedly targeted long-ranged weapons sent from Iran to Hezbollah.[90][91]

On 7 May 2013, residents of Tehran reported hearing three blasts in an area where Iran maintains its missile research and depots. Later, an Iranian website said the blasts occurred at a privately owned chemical factory.[92]

According to anonymous US officials, Israel launched another airstrike or cruise missile attack on 5 July. It targeted Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles near the city of Latakia, and killed several Syrian troops.[93]

An unidentified U.S. administration official on October 31 said Israeli warplanes struck a Syrian base near the port of Latakia, targeting missiles that Israel thought might be transferred to its Lebanese militia enemy Hezbollah.[94]

The relationship between the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Islamic Republic of Iran strengthened as a result of Hamas moving away from Iran due to differing positions on the Syrian Civil War. Iran rewarded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine's pro-Assad stance with an increase in financial and military assistance. Abu Ahmad Fouad, a PFLP political-bureau member said that the group might retaliate toward Israel if the United States bombs Syria.[95]

On 10 December, Hamas announced that they have resumed ties with Iran after a brief cut off over the Syrian conflict [96]

On 15 December 2013 a Lebanese sniper opened fire at an Israeli vehicle traveling near the border area of Rosh Hanikra, killing a soldier inside. Several hours later, the Israeli military said it shot two Lebanese soldiers after spotting “suspicious movement” in the same area.[97]


Further information: Axis of Resistance

Syrian opposition sources, as well as Lebanese sources, reported that another strike happened in Latakia on January 26, 2014. Explosions were reported in the city and Israeli planes were reported over Lebanon. The target was allegedly S-300 missiles.[98]

A court in Jerusalem has sentenced an Israeli man, Yitzhak Bergel to four-and-a-half years in prison for offering to spy for Iran. Bergel belongs to the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect which is vehemently opposed to the State of Israel's existence.[99]

It was reported that Israeli aircraft carried out two airstrikes against Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon near the border with Syria on February 24, 2014, killing several militants. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed the attack targeted a Hezbollah missile base.[100]

On March 5, 2014, the Israeli navy intercepted the Klos-C cargo ship. Israel stated Iran was using the vessel to smuggle dozens of long-range rockets to Gaza, including Syrian-manufactured M-302 rockets. The operation, named Full Disclosure and carried out by Shayetet 13 special forces, took place in the Red Sea, 1,500 kilometers away from Israel and some 160 kilometers from Port Sudan.[101]

Iranian state media reported that on August 24, 2014, IRGC had shot down an Israeli drone near Natanz fuel enrichment plant. Israeli military did not comment on the reports.[102]

Two workers were killed in an explosion that took place at a military explosives factory southeast of Tehran, near the suspected nuclear reactor in Parchin.[103] In what seemed to be a response ordered by Iran,[104] Hezbollah set off an explosive device on the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-controlled side of the Shebaa farms, wounding two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded with artillery fire toward two Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon.[105]

On December 7, 2014 Israeli jets allegedly bombed areas near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas, near the border with Lebanon. According to foreign reports the attack targeted a warehouse of advanced S-300 missiles, which were en route from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.[106] Al Arabiya reported that two Hezbollah militants were killed in the strikes, including a senior military official.[107]


On 18 January 2015, Israeli helicopters attacked a Hezbollah's convoy in the Syrian-controlled part of Golan Heights, killing six prominent members of Hezbollah and six IRGC commanders, including a General.[108][109] On January 28, Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Shebaa farms, killing two soldiers and wounding seven.[110] Israel responded with at least 50 artillery shells across the border into southern Lebanon, in which a Spanish UN peacekeeper was killed.[111]

On 25 April 2015, a series of attacks attributed to the Israeli Air Force were made in the al-Qalamoun region of Syria against Hezbollah camps and weapons convoys in two brigade bases.[112] Al-Nusra Front, however, has also claimed the attacks.[113]

Iranian supporters and proxies[edit]

Further information: Axis of Resistance



Main article: Hezbollah

Hezbollah has grown to an organization with seats in the Lebanese government, a radio and a satellite television-station, programs for social development and large-scale military deployment of fighters beyond Lebanon's borders.[114][115][116] The organization has been called a "state within a state".[117] Hezbollah is part of the March 8 Alliance within Lebanon, in opposition to the March 14 Alliance. Hezbollah maintains strong support among Lebanon's Shi'a population,[118] while Sunnis have disagreed with the group's agenda.[119][120] Following the end of the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon in 2000, its military strength grew significantly,[121][122] such that its paramilitary wing is considered more powerful than the Lebanese Army.[123][124] Hezbollah receives military training, weapons, and financial support from Iran, and political support from Syria.[125] Hezbollah also fought against Israel in the 2006 Lebanon War.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine[edit]

Sudan (2005-2011)[edit]

In 2008, Sudan and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement. The agreement was signed by Iran's Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar and his Sudanese counterpart Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein.[126]

In 2011, however, Sudan reduced the cooperation with Iran in light of the Syrian conflict and in 2015 Sudan completely severed its ties with the Islamic Republic, by participating in Yemen Crisis on behalf of the Sunni Arab alliance.[127]

Hamas (2005-2011)[edit]

Between 2005 and 2011, Iran was one of the main funders and suppliers of Hamas. Israel estimates the Hamas' Brigades have a core of several hundred members, who received military style training, including training in Iran and in Syria (before the Syrian Civil War).[128] In 2011, after the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, Hamas distanced itself from the Syrian government and its members began leaving Syria. Since 2012, Hamas ceased receiving any support from Iran due to Hamas' support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. 2014 in a speech for the spokesman of the Qassam brigades in 2014 on Hamas's 27 anniversary he thanked Iran for aid in finance and weapons.[129]

Palestinian Islamic Jihad[edit]

Iran is a major financial supporter of the PIJ.[130][131][132][133] Following the Israeli and Egyptian squeeze on Hamas in early 2014, PIJ has seen its power steadily increase with the backing of funds from Iran.[134] Its financial backing is believed to also come from Syria.

Israeli supporters and alleged proxies[edit]



Alleged Mujahideen-e-Khalq involvement[edit]

  • US officials confirm that MEK was financed, trained, and armed by Israel in killing Iranian nuclear scientists.[135]
  • According to a New Yorker report, members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq received training in the U.S. and Israeli funding for their operations against the Iranian government.[136]

Alleged Jundallah involvement[edit]

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has accused Israel of helping Jundallah to carry out attacks in Iran.[137]

Alleged PJAK involvement[edit]

Main article: Iran-PJAK conflict

International responses[edit]


See also[edit]


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