Israel Reportedly Targets Iranian Weapons Factory in Central Isfahan

Israel Reportedly Targets Iranian Weapons Factory in Central Isfahan


Israel Reportedly Targets Iranian Weapons Factory in Central Isfahan 

A series of powerful explosions damaged an Iranian government weapons factory in the central city of Isfahan, according to witnesses and footage from the scene, in what officials said was a coordinated drone attack. The overnight strikes left flames billowing from a military industrial complex thought to be a production hub for drones and missiles that have been used across the Middle East and by Russian forces in Ukraine. There was no immediate confirmation about who was responsible, but the attacks appear to fit a pattern of strikes against strategic sites across Iran that have been attributed to Israel in recent years. A fire erupted at a fuel refinery in the north-west of Iran at about the same time as explosions were heard in Isfahan, at 11:30 PM local time.

Images taken Thursday by Planet Labs PBC showed the workshop in Isfahan, a central Iranian city some 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Tehran. An AP analysis of the image, compared to earlier images of the workshop, showed damage to the structure’s roof. 

That damage corresponded to footage aired by Iranian state television immediately after the attack that showed at least two holes in the building’s roof. The Iranian state TV footage, as well as satellite photos, suggest the building’s roof also may have been built with so-called “slat armor.” The structure resembles a cage built around roofs or armored vehicles to stop direct detonation from rockets, missiles, or bomb-carrying drones against a target. Installation of such protection at the workshop suggests Iran believed it could be a drone target. Satellite imagery also showed the warehouse is located across the street from a site belonging to a unit of the Iran Space Research Center—a U.S.-sanctioned organization that has worked with the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which is responsible for Iran’s ballistic missile programs, and the Iranian Ministry of Defense.

Independent analysts reviewing the footage of the damage suggested that, given the small size of the blast, the target wasn’t an ammunition storehouse but was most likely a lab or military-logistics site. 

Iran blamed Israel for a drone attack on a military factory near the central city of Isfahan, the semi-official ISNA news agency said on Thursday, vowing revenge for what appeared to be the latest episode in a long-running covert war. In a letter to the U.N. chief, Iran's U.N. envoy, Amir Saeid Iravani, said "primary investigation suggested Israel was responsible" for Saturday night's attack, which Tehran had said caused no casualties or serious damage. "Iran reserves its legitimate and inherent right to defend its national security and firmly respond to any threat or wrongdoing of the Zionist regime (Israel) wherever and whenever it deems necessary," Iravani said in the letter.

Meanwhile, reports in Hebrew media indicated that the Israeli defense establishment was readying for Iranian retaliatory action, which they were concerned could come in the form of missiles or UAVs launched from Yemen or Syria, respectively.

Iraq and Syria

Strikes Target Iran-backed Militias on the Border Between Iraq and Syria

Relatedly, and within a span of a few hours and shortly after the drone strike in Iran, several unverified media reports claimed that unidentified aircraft carried out three separate strikes on trucks near the Syria-Iraq border. Syrian opposition sources claimed the trucks were loaded with weapons and ammunition destined for pro-Iranian militias operating in Syria. There were additional indications that the strikes killed seven people—mostly truck drivers and their assistants, who were non-Syrians. Israel has launched strikes in this Abu Kamal border region previously.

Report: Iran’s Money Laundering Network in Iraq 

This week, Iran International TV revealed information detailing Iran’s money laundering network in Iraq. It is run by an IRGC Quds Force unit tasked with smuggling money from Iraq to Iran. The Iranian embassy in Iraq is also involved. Mohammad Tajan-Jari, the financial manager of the IRGC Quds Force Unit 400 has been in charge of transferring the funds to the unit’s account in a branch of the Ansar Bank in Tehran. Such reporting comes amid U.S. government banking efforts to crack down on this Iraqi smuggling network to enforce sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Israel and Palestinian Territories

Israel Foils Hezbollah Plot to Recruit Palestinians on TikTok
The Shin Bet security agency on Thursday said it had recently uncovered attempts by a Lebanese man, a former Hezbollah operative, to recruit Palestinians to carry out terror attacks within Israel via the TikTok video-sharing mobile application.  

The agency said two East Jerusalem men, residents of Israel, were arrested over their alleged ties with the man, Salah Swouti, known as Abu Ghassan. According to the Shin Bet, Abu Ghassan instructed them to conduct surveillance operations in Israel, as the pair have Israeli ID cards. The agency said they “photographed places in Israel, with a focus on Jerusalem, in order to advance terror attacks.” The two men were not identified, and it was not clear when they were arrested.

The Shin Bet said Abu Ghassan, a former operative in the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, would make contact with potential operatives in East Jerusalem and the West Bank via TikTok. “At the beginning of the exchange, ‘Abu Ghassan’ focuses on personal matters and general discourse, such as the situation in Jerusalem and conflicts between Jews and Arabs,” the agency said.

“Later, as part of the recruitment process that is characteristic of Hezbollah, ‘Abu Ghassan’ moves the conversation to Telegram. There he forwards seemingly innocent requests to carry out tasks, such as taking photos and videos in Israel, as a possible target for an attack,” the Shin Bet said. “Over time and with the strengthening of the connection between the parties, ‘Abu Ghassan’ instructs his operatives to initiate terror attacks against Israeli citizens, ignoring the damage that will be caused to the operatives and their families,” the Shin Bet added.

Relatedly, Shin Bet also revealed that it foiled an attempt by Hamas to use Arab Israeli men to carry out a bombing attack on the day of Israel’s most recent legislative elections. Several weeks ago Mohammed Amin Muslah, 24, and Mohammed Faid Mahmeed, 28, both residents of the northern village of Mu’awiya, were detained over their involvement in the plot. According to the Shin Bet, Muslah was recruited by the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to carry out a bombing against civilians when Israelis went to the polls on November 1. Muslah then recruited his friend Mahmeed to carry out the attack, but at some point, the pair cut ties with Hamas over disagreements regarding the target, the agency said.

The Shin Bet said Hamas was adamant that they target civilians, but the two men wanted to attack soldiers. Muslah and Mahmeed then allegedly worked to carry out a shooting attack against soldiers, including snatching soldiers’ guns to continue a deadly attack.

The agency warned that Hamas was increasingly trying to carry out attacks in the West Bank and Israel. “The investigation of the affair reveals once again the fact that Hamas in the Gaza Strip exploits the Arab citizens of Israel and recruits them for the purpose of promoting terror activities in Israeli territory while harming the fabric of their lives in Israeli society,” the Shin Bet said. 

Israel Asks Chad’s Assistance to Curb Iran, Hezbollah Clout in the Sahel Region 

Israeli officials voiced their concerns to visiting Chadian President Mahamat Deby about the clout of Iran and Hezbollah in Africa’s region, during Deby’s visit to Israel to open an embassy in the country. Meeting Deby, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant "raised the importance of narrowing the influence of Iran and Hezbollah in the Sahel region, as a key to ensuring stability, and thwarting the export of terrorism," Gallant's office said.

There was no immediate comment from the government in Chad or Tehran. In Beirut, Hezbollah's media office declined to comment. The existence or level of Iranian influence in the Sahel has been disputed. Morocco cut ties with Iran in 2018, accusing it of working through Hezbollah to train and arm the Polisario Front group, which is waging an armed independence struggle for the disputed territory of Western Sahara. Rabat has also warned of Iranian incursion in the Sahel using Algeria as a gateway. Algeria and the Polisario have denied this and analysts say they have seen no evidence of such Iranian activity. Muslim-majority Chad has not publicly spoken of any significant presence by Iran or Hezbollah.

Israel Bombs Hamas Sites in Retaliatory Strikes 

Israeli Air Force jets carried out bombing sorties in the Gaza Strip early Thursday in response to a rocket attack on southern Israel hours earlier, as a new round of rocket alarms sounded in Sderot and nearby towns, the IDF said. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said its jets bombed a site where the Hamas terror group stores chemicals used to make missiles. It also struck a facility where the group manufactures weaponry, the army said.  

The Israeli bombing runs came hours after a rocket launched toward the southern city of Sderot on Wednesday evening was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, the IDF said.Sirens went off again in Sderot and other nearby towns several times as Israel carried out the airstrikes. The IDF later said that 12 projectiles were fired from the Gaza Strip during the airstrikes, but not all of them were rockets. Some were anti-aircraft missiles aimed at Israeli jets, and others were rockets aimed at Israeli towns. The military said 11 of the projectiles exploded in open areas in Israel or mid-air, and one rocket fell short in the Strip. The Iron Dome air defense system was not activated in any of the cases, the IDF said.


i24 News Exclusive Probes Links Between Hezbollah and the Polisario Front

An exclusive report by The Defense channel of i24NEWS revealed Wednesday how the Polisario Front, which operates from Tindouf in Algeria, organized a large-scale illegal money laundering network based in Spain, and how the movement is linked to Hezbollah in Lebanon. 

Through access to a report by an unnamed Western intelligence agency written by financial investigators, as well as reports from Spain’s Guardia Civil force, The Defense was able to identify Ahmed Abderrahman as the mastermind behind the Hawala – an informal method of transferring money through brokers. As the head of the Hawala, dubbed “Tirs,” Abderrahman had very close ties to the leaders of the Polisario Front – a rebel Sahrawi nationalist liberation movement claiming Western Sahara in northwest Africa that proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

In its report, The Defense presented exclusive examples of several bank accounts opened in Spain and Ireland connected to “Tirs.” Above it all, the channel also revealed very close ties between the Polisario Front and Lebanon’s Shiite Islamist movement Hezbollah through the Hawala. The report showed Abderrahman seated at a cafe in an unnamed European country, where he met with a Lebanese businessman from al-Qard al-Hasan – the financial arm of Hezbollah – who was linked to the Shiite militant group.

"I love Hezbollah. Despite the struggles in Lebanon, I love what it does. Hezbollah is special. I am Sunni, and yet I love it because its men keep their word. They proved their strength in the 2006 war against Israel…and many countries are afraid of them,” declared the interlocutor.