New York Times: Israel behind blast at Iran nuclear site

Unconfirmed report quotes ‘Middle Eastern intelligence official’ saying Israel behind the explosion at top secret nuclear facility; rockets fired from Gaza Sunday night might be an initial Iranian response.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Following a New York Times report alleging Israel was behind the mysterious explosion at an Iranian nuclear site, Israeli sources speculated Monday that a rocket attack from Gaza over the weekend might be the first Iranian response.

The Times report on the weekend quoted an unidentified “Middle Eastern intelligence official with knowledge of the episode” who said the damage at the top secret Natanz nuclear facility was caused by a bomb and not by a cyberattack as first speculated.

A previous report in a Kuwaiti newspaper claimed Israel had carried out an airstrike on Natanz using F-35 stealth bombers.

However, Defense Minister Benny Gantz denied the reports, saying “not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us.”

Although an Iranian military official confirmed that Natanz had been seriously damaged by a bomb, attention focused on a possible Iranian retaliation.

Several rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza Sunday evening in what the Security Parliament news stream speculated could be a first Iranian retaliation using the Islamic Jihad terror group – an Iranian-backed proxy in Gaza known to act independently of the Hamas terror organization that runs Gaza.

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“Iran’s concern is that the lack of response will be interpreted as a weakness similar to what is happening in Syria as a result of attacks attributed to Israel on Iranian targets,” Security Parliament tweeted.

Veteran Arab affairs analyst Yoni Ben Menachem said that after Iran pointed the finger of blame at Israel, the Jewish state is trying to distance itself from the Natanz bombing as well as an explosion last week in the mountains outside Iran and another explosion at a power plant over the weekend.

“Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will determine the nature and timing of the Iranian response,” Ben Menachem tweeted.