Iran-Israel tensions escalate over Tehran assassination

Tensions between Israel and Iran intensified over the weekend, with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying Tehran could “pay the full price” for supporting militant proxies targeting Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

Mr Bennett’s comments on Sunday came as threats between the two countries continued for a week after the May 22 assassination of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard colonel in a mysterious attack in Tehran.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made headlines when he vowed to avenge the death of Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei. Mr Rice hailed the colonel as a martyr and blamed his death on the “hand of global arrogance” – referring to the US and its allies, including Israel.

While the assassination bears the hallmarks of previous high-profile killings of Iranian officials, which were blamed on Israel, no official responsibility was claimed.

However, the New York Times reported on May 25 that Israel had notified U.S. officials that it was behind the killing. The Times report quoted an anonymous intelligence official who said he had been briefed on the communications.

News reports say Israel has accused Colonel Kodei of orchestrating attacks on Israeli citizens around the world. The colonel is believed to have been shot five times in the car by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle in Tehran and died at the scene.

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According to Reuters, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency said members of the Israeli intelligence service network in Iran were found and arrested immediately after the Khodaei shooting.

Reuters noted that the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, which oversees Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, declined to comment on the assassination.

But in a broadcast address to ministers on Sunday, Bennett accused Iran of repeatedly targeting Israeli interests.

“For decades, the Iranian regime has carried out terrorism against Israel and the region through proxies, emissaries, but Iran, the leader of the octopus, enjoys immunity itself,” the prime minister said, according to Reuters.

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

• This article is based in part on the Cable Services report.

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