Home » How Israel and Iran went from ‘best friends’ to arch-enemies on the cusp of all-out war

How Israel and Iran went from ‘best friends’ to arch-enemies on the cusp of all-out war

In a clear sign of what exactly Israel considered to be an existential threat, suspected Mossad agents carried out a string of attacks on nuclear scientists inside Iran in the early 2010s. In just two years, five prominent physicists were shot dead or killed in car bombs.

Israel also reportedly developed an advanced computer worm that managed to damage centrifuges at one of Iran’s enrichment plans.

In response, Iran targeted several Israeli embassies abroad with car bombs.

After the eight-year rule of Holocaust-denying Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad finally came to an end in 2013, Iran struck a historic nuclear deal with the West in 2015.

It agreed to significant restrictions on its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief and allowed international monitors to visit some – though not all – of its enrichment sites.

Netanyahu blasted West’s nuclear deal with Iran

Israel was furious, with Benjamin Netanyahu, then in the second of his three periods as prime minister, blasting the agreement for “fuelling Iran’s aggression with hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief”.

Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, claiming it failed to curtail Iran’s missile programme and regional influence. Tehran began ignoring the restrictions on its nuclear programme a year later.

Since then, Israel is believed to have continued to eliminate top Iranian officials.

When the US assassinated Iranian military commander Qassim Soleimani in January 2020, it was reported to have been done with the help of Israeli intelligence.

In November that year, a remote-controlled gun killed Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s top nuclear scientist.

In 2022, seven officers affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including two colonels, were killed in separate incidents.

Since Oct 7, when Hamas launched its brutal assault on Israel and killed around 1,200 people, Israel is alleged to have conducted dozens of strikes in Syria to kill senior Iranian commanders and officials, including the IRGC’s intelligence chief in the country.

This month, it is believed to have bombed Tehran’s embassy in Damascus, wiping out seven Iranians including Mohammad Reza Zahedi, one of the IRGC’s most senior commanders.