Iran’s Attacks Bring Long Shadow War With Israel Into the Open

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For decades, Israel and Iran have fought a shadow war across the Middle East, trading attacks by land, sea, air and in cyberspace. The barrage of drones and missiles Iran launched at Israel on Saturday — though nearly all were shot down or intercepted — marked a watershed in the conflict.

It was the first time that Iran directly attacked Israel from its own territory, according to Ahron Bregman, a political scientist and expert in Middle East security issues at King’s College in London, who called it an “historic event.”

Iran has largely used foreign proxies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia to strike Israeli interests, while targeted assassinations of Iranian military leaders and nuclear scientists have been a key part of Israel’s strategy.Here is a recent history of the conflict:

August 2019: An Israeli airstrike killed two Iranian-trained militants in Syria, a drone set off a blast near a Hezbollah office in Lebanon and an airstrike in Qaim, Iraq, killed a commander of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia. Israel accused Iran at the time of trying to establish an overland arms-supply line through Iraq and northern Syria to Lebanon, and analysts said the strikes were aimed at stopping Iran and signaling to its proxies that Israel will not tolerate a fleet of smart missiles on its borders.

January 2020: Israel greeted with satisfaction the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the foreign-facing arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in an American drone strike in Baghdad.

Iran hit back by attacking two bases in Iraq that housed American troops with a barrage of missiles, injuring about 100 U.S. military personnel.

2021-22: In July 2021, an oil tanker managed by an Israeli-owned shipping company was attacked off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members, according to the company and three Israeli officials. Two of the officials said that the attack appeared to have been carried out by Iranian drones.

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