TEL AVIV — An attack on an Israeli military base in the Persian Gulf region was carried out by Iranian Revolutionary Guard units, officials and a weapons expert told Breaking the Silence on Wednesday.
Defense ministry officials have previously said that the Guards claimed responsibility for a September attack on an arms storage facility near Qom, but the official account of the attack has not been made public.
Some of the story is not officially confirmed, the analyst and weapons expert Boaz Ganor said. Breaking the Silence is an NGO that studies Israel’s treatment of Palestinian detainees.
The details of the attack are in dispute, but “we know what happened and we know what the nature of the response was,” Ganor said. “It was not one firing [missile] but a string of explosions that took out several buildings.” The attack killed one soldier and seriously wounded another.
A defense official and others have dismissed that version of events, claiming that the attackers were using both a mortar and small arms, and then seeking cover. Israeli military officials said that the attacker’s Iranian-made rockets also fell on the base after they fell on the ground. The rocket fire added to tensions in the region, although the Israelis said that they had turned out to be nonlethal.
Ganor said the attack was a “terrorist strike, a deliberate act.” He cited findings from his own Israeli missiles testing company. “This is missile practice by the Revolutionary Guard from Iran against the Israeli base, the same type of training that the Iranians had on the site with small arms and mortars,” he said. The weapons tested, he said, included shoulder-fired Raytheon missiles. He suggested that the attackers likely have military training as well.
Also crucial to the original story, Ganor said, was the presence of Iranian personnel in a tunnel near the base, and the fact that they were not evacuated immediately when the shots were fired. Iran says that it maintains a presence on the base but Golor said that “the information provided by Breaking the Silence suggests that a major Iranian invasion force never made it into the base. It is also completely plausible that the Iranians pulled out in a few minutes, indicating that there were no Iranian forces actually on the base.”
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that, as part of the Iranian response, Revolutionary Guard forces sank a “friendly ship” near the base, although officials of the Israeli military did not mention any known attack on a U.S. vessel in their statement Tuesday.
Breaking the Silence circulated new pictures of the train of missile fired to media outlets in order to put on the radar “that the Iranians are certainly ready and able to hit, strike in the days to come.”
Three parts of the story are not yet officially confirmed, Ganor said. One is that the Iranian forces that participated in the attack were wearing unmarked uniforms. Another is that the attacker is probably connected to the Iranian Intelligence Ministry, but he said that “the question remains unanswered.”
Iranian interests have been touched by the violence in the region in recent weeks.
Senior officials at Israel’s Foreign Ministry warned last week that Israeli intelligence believes that Iran’s intelligence ministry was behind the sophisticated, coordinated attack on members of the Saudi royal family at a key Saudi mosque in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
The attack was one of the most serious in the kingdom since the brutal 1979 hostage crisis and the storming of the American embassy. Saudi authorities reported that one of the attackers, Reda al-Qahtani, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was killed during the incident.
Syria’s Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, but neither the state-run Saudi press agency nor the country’s official news agencies reported that claim.