Iranian op-ed urges attack on Israeli port city over scientist killing

An Iranian op-ed published Sunday urges officials to attack an Israeli port city after a top Iranian nuclear scientist was killed last week. 

The opinion piece published in the Kayhan newspaper called for Iran to launch an attack on the Israeli city Haifa if Israel was responsible for the killing on Friday of scientist Mohsen FakhrizadehThe Associated Press reported. 

The Kayhan newspaper is known for pushing for aggressive retaliation strategies. The op-ed written by analyst Sadollah Zarei says an attack needs to destroy facilities and cause “heavy human casualties.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The call for violence came after Fakhrizadeh, who American and Israeli intelligence said led the country’s military nuclear program, was assassinated in an attack on Friday. Iranian state media reported he was shot and killed by “armed terrorist elements” while in a vehicle. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif asserted that there were “serious indications” of Israeli involvement in the violence but did not provide specific evidence. 

Israel, suspected of killing Iranian nuclear scientists over the past decade, has not commented on the brazen slaying of Fakhrizadeh, although Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said he had “no clue” who killed him. 

The op-ed said that Iran’s previous reactions to alleged Israeli airstrikes that resulted in Iranian deaths in Syria did not go far enough. Zarei argued that any attack on Haifa would need to be bigger than Iran’s retaliation against American troops in Iraq in January after the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, according to the AP.

Attacking Israel’s third-largest city and causing casualties “will definitely lead to deterrence, because the United States and the Israeli regime and its agents are by no means ready to take part in a war and a military confrontation,” he wrote.

The AP noted that Kayhan is a “small circulation newspaper,” but its editor-in-chief Hossein Shariatmadari was appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and has been declared an adviser for him.

Fakhrizadeh previously managed an organized nuclear program that officially disbanded in 2003, although Israel has maintained that Iran continued to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran denies.