The Iranian spy network uncovered in Israel collected information on a wide variety of potential targets. The list of sites included government offices, shopping malls, and the US Embassy. This was not the first time that the Iranians showed interest in American facilities in Israel.
Some of the Israeli women recruited by Iran were operating for years, apparently inspired by financial motives. Although they were largely unable to provide truly high-value intelligence, they still handed over details that could be useful to plan terror attacks.
However, surveillance efforts at the American Embassy apparently failed. A video captured by one agent was blurry, and another attempt to photograph the site was disrupted by security officers, Haaretz daily says.
Notably, US diplomatic missions in Israel are protected by well-trained forces, including a large contingent of local armed guards. American sentries are also deployed at the embassy to offer an extra layer of protection against terrorist threats.
Moreover, strict security protocols are in place to prevent intrusion by vehicles or on foot. Based on the details made public, it appears that the spy ring was unable to collect any sensitive intelligence pointing to vulnerabilities in the security perimeter.
Iranian terror cells in Israel?
However, one question remains: Regardless of the information collected, who could use it to carry out an attack inside Israel? The women recruited by the Iranians declined to perform truly damaging tasks, and in any case were not trained operatives.
One possibility for Iran is to mobilize Israeli Arabs recruited by Hezbollah. The Lebanese terror group invests great efforts to smuggle weapons to sympathizers in Israel in order to set up armed terror cells. Another option for Iran is to recruit Palestinian terrorists and send them into Israel through breaches in the West Bank security fence.
As the Iranians continue to seek agents and operatives, the security services watch closely and work to disrupt these efforts. Therefore, Iran-linked terrorists eyeing American targets will have to overcome not only strong defensive measures but also Israel’s capable counter-intelligence apparatus.
For now, it appears that Tehran does not have in place an espionage and operational network that can carry out significant attacks on US or other targets. On this front, Israel appears to have a strong advantage with an effective network of operatives embedded deep in Iran.
However, the Iranians relentlessly seek vulnerabilities in Israel’s shield to infiltrate its defenses. Given the longtime hostility between Tehran and Washington, American assets and officials will likely remain one of the targets of Iran’s intelligence collection efforts in Israel.