A military officer and a weapons scientist died in Tehran’s questionable circumstances, increasing tensions between Iran and Israel.
Colonel Ali Esmaelzadeh, a military officer, died in an unclear situation on Friday. As per the New York Times, his death was the consequence of an assassination, suicide, or an accident, by several accounts.
Esmaelzadeh died just a week after Colonel Sayad Khodaei, another high-ranking commander in the same unit as Esmaelzadeh, was murdered in a drive-by shooting outside his house in Tehran.
According to the New York Times, an official briefed on official intelligence verified that Israel alerted US officials that they were involved in Khodaei’s murder.
However, two Israeli officials denied that the state was involved in Esmaelzadeh’s killing, as per the report.
Both Esmaelzadeh and Khodaei were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Force, Unit 840, classified as a terrorist organization by President Donald Trump. According to The New York Times, Israel is suspected of carrying out operations to murder foreigners abroad.
The Israelis told US officials that Khodaei’s assassination was a warning sign of stopping the operations of Unit 840, of which he was reportedly the deputy leader, according to the newspaper.
General Hossein Salami, the Revolutionary Guards’ commander in chief, stated in a speech on Monday to Khodaei’s murder that “none of the enemy’s horrific actions would go unanswered.”
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps stated in response to Khodaei’s killing. IRGC spokesperson General Ramezan Sharif said that “the thugs and remnants of terrorist groups connected with global arrogance and Zionism would be punished for their criminal action.”
Amid the tensions, Israel published a travel alert to its people on Monday, instructing them not to travel to Turkey because they fear Tehran is seeking vengeance for the assassination, according to Reuters.
Along with these folks, Ayoob Entezari, an Iranian aerospace engineer who served on constructing missiles and drones, died in Tehran under questionable circumstances, as per Times of Israel.
According to an Iranian internet newspaper on Saturday, Entezari is assumed to have died from food poisoning, according to the Israeli publication Haaretz.
It came after The New York Times noted a drone attack on a military base near Tehran that died an Iranian engineer and injured another.
Multiple geopolitical factors fuel the tension between the Jewish state and the Islamic republic, including the Israel-Palestine conflict – in which Iran has earlier advocated for a Palestinian intifada to eliminate Israel’s “cancerous tumour” – and Israel’s belief that Iran is constructing nuclear weapons, which Iran rejected.
Israeli officials declared in November 2021 that they were preparing for a possible battle with Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. “If a terror government gets a nuclear weapon, we must act,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid remarked.
Another source of dispute between the two states is oil. In 2021, Israel was said to have assaulted at least a dozen Iranian oil tankers en route to Syria in defiance of US and UN restrictions.
In 2021, Israel accused Iran of conducting “environmental terrorism” by purposely causing an oil spill. With almost 1000 tonnes of black tar, the leak blanketed 90 percent of Israel’s 120-mile Mediterranean shoreline.