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Iranian outlet names five Israeli intel and tech experts as potential targets

Tehran has vowed revenge for killing of senior Revolutionary Guards officer, prompting Israel to ramp up its air defenses and issue travel warning for Turkey

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Five Israelis that Iran's Fars agency says could be targeted by the regime, May 29, 2022 (Courtesy)
Five Israelis that Iran's Fars agency says could be targeted by the regime, May 29, 2022 (Courtesy)

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency issued details on five Israelis it warned could be targeted by Tehran, as the Islamic Republic continued to seethe on Monday over the killing of a top Revolutionary Guards official, which it blames on Israel.

Under the headline “Zionists who must live in secret,” Fars claimed that the five, their families and colleagues are “under close surveillance day and night” and that many others were potential targets as well.

The news site, citing “internal government sources,” said the five were “involved in sabotage against Islamic countries and the assassination of activists of the Islamic Resistance.”

The named individuals are Amos Malka, a former head of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Directorate; Amir Levental, a cybersecurity expert; Gal Ganot, a former senior officer in the IDF’s 8200 intelligence unit; Inbal Arieli, a tech executive who is also a former 8200 officer; and Amit Meltzer, another cybersecurity expert.

The agency published photos of the five under the word “Wanted.”

Iranian officials have vowed to avenge the targeted killing of a senior Revolutionary Guard Corps member in Tehran last week, a shooting that Israeli officials reportedly told Washington was carried out by Israeli intelligence.

“The martyrs who are murdered by the Zionists are of a much higher status. God willing we will take revenge against the enemies,” Maj. Gen Hossein Salami said during a visit with Khodaei’s family on Monday. Iran had indicated it believed Israel or the US were responsible for the killing, but had not previously directly blamed Israel.

Senior Israeli lawmaker Ram Ben Barak denied last week that Israel had taken responsibility for the killing, although he did not comment on whether or not Israeli intelligence had killed Khodaei.

“As far as I know, we did not inform anyone or take responsibility, and that is for the best,” Ben Barak, a former deputy head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, told Radio 103FM.

Mourners gather around a truck carrying the flag-draped coffin of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei who was killed on Sunday, in his funeral ceremony in Tehran, Iran, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei was shot five times in his car last week by two unidentified gunmen on motorbikes in the middle of Tehran. Israeli media, apparently briefed off the record by Israeli officials, reported that Khodaei was involved in killings and abductions outside of Iran, including attempts to target Israelis.

Iranian authorities have yet to pin down suspects, even though the incident took place in the heart of one of the most secure areas in Tehran — Mohahedin-e Eslam Street, home to other senior officials in the IRGC and its elite Quds Force.

Israel, which has not officially commented on the incident, reportedly raised the security alert level at its embassies and consulates around the world, fearing a retaliatory Iranian attack.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces bolstered the country’s air defenses over concerns Iran could launch an attack in response to the assassination.

Security officials fear a missile or suicide drone attack by Iranian-backed groups in Lebanon and Syria, the Kan public broadcaster reported. Various air defense systems — including the Iron Dome — were placed on high alert and their deployments adjusted following the threat.

Israel has repeatedly warned that Iranian drones are a significant threat to the region — especially as Tehran arms proxy groups stationed along Israel’s borders.

An Iron Dome air defense system is seen near the Israeli border with Lebanon, on February 18, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Israel on Monday issued an updated travel warning for Turkey amid fears of an Iranian response to the assassination of a senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps last week.

“For several weeks now, and even more so since Iran blamed Israel for the death of the Revolutionary Guards officer last week, there has been growing concern in the defense establishment about Iranian attempts to harm Israeli targets around the world,” a statement from the National Security Council said.

The NSC said it was “sharpening” the travel warning to Turkey, stressing that the country and other nations bordering Iran pose “a high level of risk to Israelis these days.”

Security officials said the warnings follow “real threats to Israelis” in Turkey, which they did not specify.

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