Iran and Israel Have a Long History of Clandestine Attacks

For decades, Israel and Iran have fought a shadow war across the Middle East, trading attacks by land, sea, air and in cyberspace.

Iran has largely used foreign proxies to strike Israeli interests, while targeted assassinations of Iranian military leaders and nuclear scientists have been a key part of Israel’s strategy.

Israel’s strike in the Syrian capital, Damascus, that killed three top Iranian commanders on Monday was the most brazen attack in years, raising fears of a wider confrontation. That would be particularly dangerous in a region already in turmoil on multiple fronts, including Israel’s war in Gaza, cross-border skirmishes between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militia against Western interests in the Red Sea. An escalation between Israel and Iran would also risk further entangling the United States, given the presence of American troops in the region.

Here are some key moments in the yearslong conflict.

January 2020: A major target

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

Crowds at the funeral for Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in Tehran in 2020.Credit…Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

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.

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