Skip to main content

Iran lashes out at Israel after Mossad threatens to hit 'top echelon' in Tehran 

The flare-up in the harsh rhetoric was the latest episode in yearslong allegations between the two enemies, who blame one another for "terror" plots targeting their respective citizens worldwide. 
Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Nasser Kanani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on December 5, 2022. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

TEHRAN — Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanani said his country will not hesitate to respond to "foolish" moves by the Israeli government, as the war of words between the two enemies is escalating

Addressing reporters in Tehran on Monday, Kanani was reacting to a recent warning from David Barnea, director of Israel's foreign intelligence agency, Mossad. Barnea has accused Iran of intensifying its worldwide "terror" campaign against Israeli citizens and Jewish targets. He warned that should Iran harm Israeli citizens, his country will hit the "highest echelon … in the heart of Tehran."  

"Such an overt announcement of plots to assassinate the officials of a country is only indicative of the nature of this terrorist regime," Kanani declared, arguing that Israel has a proven record of "resorting to terrorist moves to achieve its illegitimate objectives."  

The Islamic Republic and the Jewish state have been exchanging accusations about the targeting of their citizens, both on their respective soil and abroad. Most notably, Iran blames Israel for a chain of killings of its nuclear and missile experts since 2010. Most of the attacks occurred in or around the capital, Tehran, with Israel neither denying nor confirming involvement.  

Yet the latest rhetoric did not end there, as Iran expressed unease with signs of piecemeal Israeli rapprochement with Saudi Arabia. The participation of an Israeli delegation at a meeting of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in Riyadh was brought to the attention of the Iranian spokesman at his Tehran presser.  

"The presence of the Zionist regime in regional bodies is disruptive to the stated goals in multilateral cooperation in the region," he said.  

Normalization pacts between Israel and several Arab states since 2020 have been met with condemnation in Tehran. Iran's hard-line cleric and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has even denounced such reconciliation moves as acts of "treason" against the Islamic community.  

"In our bilateral and multilateral meetings with the officials of the Islamic and Arab countries, we have declared our stance on the Zionist regime's nature and the menace its presence in regional bodies poses."  

Kanani said the Islamic Republic had communicated "clearly our opinion to Saudi officials both in Tehran and in Riyadh." He did not specify if or how those authorities had addressed the Iranian concern. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in