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Iran–Israel proxy conflict
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Israel and Iran in the Middle East

Tensions increasing:

  • Iran allegedly tries to reinforce Syria and Hezbollah on the course of Syrian civil war
  • Israel allegedly tries to prevent weapon transfers to Hezbollah


Supported by:


Supported by:

  •  Syria
  •  Lebanon

The Israel–Iran proxy conflict[4] or Israeli-Iranian proxy war[5] is the ongoing indirect conflict between Israel and Iran, mainly executed via proxy forces and covert operations. The conflict is bound in the religious and political struggle of Iranian religious leadership against Israel and the counter aim of Israel to prevent nuclear weapons from the Iranian government and downgrading its allies and proxies such as Hezbollah party in Lebanon and the Syrian Government [6][7] in Syria. 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 through a significant period of time, however that alliance expired in 2011, following the religious and political tensions between Shia Iran and Sunni Hamas in light of the Syrian civil war.


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.[8][9][10] Hezbollah's 1985 manifesto listed its four main goals as "Israel's final departure from Lebanon as a prelude to its final obliteration"[11] According to reports released in February 2010, Hezbollah received $400 million from Iran.[9] 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.


Iranian aid to Hezbollah and Hamas


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


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.[12]


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.[13][14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] Other computer viruses and malware, including Duqu and Flame, were reportedly related to Stuxnet.[20][21]


On 15 March 2011, Israel seized a ship from Syria bringing Iranian weapons to Gaza.[22] 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".[23] Hours after the blast took place, Hezbollah fired two rockets into northern Israel, causing property damage.[citation needed] 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.[24] The Israeli attack was reported to have killed 7 people, including foreign nationals.[citation needed] Another 12 people were injured, of whom 7 later died in hospital.[25][26]

During Syrian civil war


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.[27] Israeli journalist Ron Ben-Yishai wrote that several lower-ranked Iranian missile experts had probably been previously killed in several explosions at various sites.[15]

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.[28] 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.[29]


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.[30] Israel accused Iran of being behind the attacks.[31][32] 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.[33] Thai police subsequently arrested two people suspected of involvement.[34][35] 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.[36]

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.[37]

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.[38] 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, and Nigeria, and that Iranian and Hezbollah operatives were incarcerated in jails throughout the world.[39][40][41][42]

On October 6, 2012, Israeli airplanes shot down a small UAV as it flew over northern Negev.[43] Hezbollah confirmed it sent drone and Nasrallah said in a televised speech that the drone's parts were manufactured in Iran.[44]

On October 24, 2012, Sudan claimed that Israel had bombed a munitions factory, allegedly belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guard, south of Khartoum.[45][46][47]

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".[48]


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.[49]

On January 30, 2013, Israeli aircraft allegedly struck a Syrian convoy transporting Iranian weapons to Hezbollah.[50] Other sources stated the targeted site was a military research center in Jamraya responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons.[51]

On April 25, 2013, Israeli aircraft shot down a drone off the coast of Haifa, allegedly belonging to Hezbollah.[52]

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.[53][54]

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.[55]

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.[56]

Iranian proxies and supporters




Hamas (2006-2012)

Palestinian Islamic Jihad

Israeli proxies and Supporters


Alleged proxies

Alleged Kurdish militants

Mujahideen-e-Khalq involvement

According to a New Yorker report, members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq received training in the U.S. and Israeli regime funding for their operations against the Iranian government.[57]

Alleged Jundallah involvement

Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei has accused Israel of helping Jundallah to carry out attacks in Iran.[58]

See also


  1. "'Azerbaijan granted Israel access to air bases on Iran border'". Haaretz. March 29, 2012. Retrieved September 30, 2012. 
  3. [1] "Iran’s annual financial aid to Hamas is believed to be around $20 million, which helps the group run its government in the Gaza Strip. Both parties enjoyed warm ties since 2006 when Hamas won an election against the Western-backed Fatah movement. But the crisis in Syria has led to problems between them."
  4. Al-Jazeera [2] With the release of the IAEA's indicting report into Iran's nuclear activities, the starting gun for another round of Middle East confrontation involving Israel has gone off. The report, coming at a time of de-stabilising change across the region, threatens to transform a low-level, proxy conflict between Israel and Iran into a more violent and direct confrontation.
  5. [3]
  6. Saeed Kamali Dehghan (28 May 2012). "Syrian army being aided by Iranian forces". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  7. Daftari, Lisa (28 August 2012). "Iranian general admits 'fighting every aspect of a war' in defending Syria's Assad". Fox News. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  8. "IN THE PARTY OF GOD Are terrorists in Lebanon preparing for a larger war? by Jeffrey Goldberg". The New Yorker. October 14, 2002. Retrieved 2007-03-03. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Iran Massively Rearming Hezbollah in Violation of UN Security Council Resolution, American Chronicle, March 28, 2010
  10. Background Information on Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations
  11. Norton, Augustus (1987). Amal and the Shi'a: the struggle for the Soul of Lebanon. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 167–87. ISBN 0-292-73040-3. 
  12. Iranian soldiers join Hizbullah in fighting
  13. Three Israeli Airstrikes Against Sudan
  14. Israel carried out 3 attacks on Sudan arms smugglers
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ben-Yishai, Ron (January 12, 2012). "Killing the brains".,7340,L-4174792,00.html. Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  16. Yong, William (October 13, 2010). "18 Iran Guards Killed by Blast at Their Base". 
  17. Meikle, James (January 11, 2012). "Iran: timeline of attacks". Retrieved September 23, 2012. 
  18. "Legal Experts: Stuxnet Attack on Iran Was Illegal ‘Act of Force’". Wired. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  19. "Did Stuxnet Take Out 1,000 Centrifuges at the Natanz Enrichment Plant?". Institute for Science and International Security. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  20. "Spotted in Iran, trojan Duqu may not be "son of Stuxnet" after all". Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  21. Lee, Dave (4 June 2012). "Flame: Attackers 'sought confidential Iran data'". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  22. "Navy intercepts ship with Iranian arms bound for Hamas". Jerusalem Post. March 15, 2011. 
  23. Blast at Isfahan damaged nuclear facility
  24. Nisman, Daniel (November 29, 2011). "A message from Iran".,7340,L-4154599,00.html. Retrieved September 23, 2012. 
  25. Iran: 7 killed in steel factory blast
  26. Iran: Factory blast death toll reaches 16
  27. Iranian missile expert killed in explosion
  28. Iran 'trying to attack Israeli targets in retaliation for scientists' deaths'
  29. Stevens, John; Tree, Oliver (13 October 2011). "This is an act of war': U.S. vows action over bizarre Iranian plot to hire Mexican drugs cartel to kill Saudi ambassador in D.C. restaurant blast". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  30. Israeli missions in India, Georgia targeted
  31. Netanyahu: Iran responsible for attacks on Israeli embassies
  32. Israel embassy car blast: Indian intelligence hints at Iran's hand
  33. Malaysia police arrest suspect in Bangkok blasts
  34. Thai police: 2 more suspects in terror case
  35. Thai official: Iran terrorists targeted Israeli diplomats
  36. BBS News India (7 March 2012). "Indian journalist held for attack on Israeli envoy". BBC News India. 
  37. "ISRAEL/IRAN - Barak hails munitions blast in Iran". Global Intelligence Files. WikiLeaks. February 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-27. 
  38. "PM Netanyahu's Remarks Following Terror Attack in Bulgaria". July 18, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-27. 
  39. Eichner, Itamar (July 20, 2012). "PM reveals: South Africa attack against Israelis thwarted".,7340,L-4258237,00.html. Retrieved 2012-07-27. 
  40. Tait, Robert (April 23, 2013). "Iranian travelling on fake Israeli passport 'arrested in Nepal'". 
  41. "Nigeria nabs terrorists planning attacks on Israelis". February 21, 2013. 
  42. "Nigeria foils latest Hezbollah plot to attack Israelis". May 30, 2013. 
  43. IAF shoots down UAV in northern Negev
  44. Hezbollah confirms it sent drone downed over Israel
  45. "Khartoum fire blamed on Israeli bombing". Al Jazeera. 25 October 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2012. 
  46. "Israeli jets 'bombed weapons factory in Khartoum', Sudan claims". Daily Telegraph. 24 Oct 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  48. "Report: Israeli spy satellites spot Iranian ship being loaded with rockets for Gaza."
  49. "The IAEA Says It Has Inspectors At Iran's Fordo Nuclear Site And There Has Been No Explosion". Business Insider. 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2013-05-26. 
  50. "Israel strikes Syrian weapons en route to Hezbollah". Jerusalem Post. January 30, 2013. 
  51. "Analysis: Syria center long been on Israel’s radar". Jerusalem Post. January 31, 2013. 
  52. "IAF shoots down drone from Lebanon off Haifa". Jerusalem Post. April 25, 2013. 
  53. "'IAF strike in Syria targeted arms from Iran'". Jerusalem Post. May 4, 2013. 
  54. Cohen, Gili (May 5, 2013). "'Israel overnight strike targeted Iranian missile shipment meant for Hezbollah'". Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  55. "Report: Israel behind recent strike on Syria missile depot, U.S. officials say". 12 July 2013. 
  56. Syria military base blasts said to be Israeli strike, Reuters, Oct 31, 2013
  57. "Report: U.S., Israel helped train Iranian dissidents". Haaretz. April 7, 2012. 
  58. "Ahmadinejad: US behind terror attacks". Archived from the original on 20 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 

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