The killing of Iranian Col. Hassan Khodaei outside his Tehran home signaled a major shift in Israel’s strategy toward Iran. The Jewish state’s apparently considerable efforts on Iranian soil had formerly been directed at the Iranian nuclear program. But Jerusalem seems to have adopted a broader definition of the challenge it faces—and the measures it will adopt to address it.
Khodaei, who was killed May 22, had no known connection to the nuclear program. Rather, he was one of the most seasoned special-operations men in the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Khodaei was engaged in external operations said to include kidnappings and assassinations. He played an important role in the transfer of drone and missile technology to Lebanese Hezbollah, Tehran’s key regional proxy. According to Hebrew media reports, he was in the midst of masterminding a plan for the abduction of Israelis overseas at the time of his demise.
Khodaei’s killing was the second known operation carried out this year by Israel on Iranian soil against a target unconnected to Tehran’s nuclear program, and the first to directly target a specific individual. An earlier strike, at an air base at Kermanshah in mid-February, destroyed hundreds of drones.
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Reprinted with author’s permission from Middle East Forum