October 4, 2022
Iran-Israel tension rises over assassination in Tehran

Tension between Israel and Iran ratcheted higher over the weekend, with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying Tehran can expect to “pay the full price” for backing militant proxies that target Israel and others around the Middle East.

Mr. Bennett’s comments Sunday came after a week of threats between the two nations following the May 22 assassination of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps colonel in a mysterious attack in Tehran.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made headlines after the killing by vowing revenge for the death of Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei. Mr. Raisi hailed the colonel as a martyr and blamed “the hand of global arrogance” for his death — a reference to the United States and its allies, including Israel.

While the assassination bore the hallmarks of previous high-profile killings of Iranian officials blamed on Israel, there has been no formal claim of responsibility.

However, The New York Times reported on May 25 that Israel had informed American officials it was behind the killing. The Times report cited an anonymous intelligence official who had been briefed on the communication.

News reports maintain that Israel has accused Col. Khodaei of having plotted attacks against Israeli citizens worldwide. The colonel is believed to have been killed instantly when he was shot five times in a car by two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike in Tehran.

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Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said members of an Israeli intelligence service network inside Iran had been discovered and arrested immediately after the Khodaei shooting, according to Reuters, which reported on Mr. Bennett’s comments on Sunday.

Reuters noted that the Israeli prime minister’s office, which oversees the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, has declined to comment on the assassination.

But in broadcast remarks to his ministers on Sunday, Mr. Bennett accused Iran of repeatedly targeting Israeli interests.

“For decades, the Iranian regime has practiced terrorism against Israel and the region by means of proxies, emissaries, but the head of the octopus, Iran itself, has enjoyed immunity,” the prime minister said, according to Reuters.

“As we have said before, the era of the Iranian regime’s immunity is over,” Mr. Bennett said. “Those who finance terrorists, those who arm terrorists and those who send terrorists will pay the full price.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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