Israel launches new spy satellite

The move follows a series of mysterious happenings in Iran, including at a nuclear facility.

al-monitor Israeli spy satellite Ofek 16 launches into space on July 7, 2020.  Photo by YOUTUBE/beholdisrael.

Jul 6, 2020

Israel launched a spy satellite into space today. The action follows a series of mysterious incidents in Iran, including one linked to Israel, though neither country has confirmed this.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the satellite, called Ofek 16 — one of Israel’s many — will help with the “ability to act against Israel’s enemies, near and far alike.”

“It greatly expands our ability to act on land, at sea, in the air and also in space,” said Netanyahu, as reported by The Associated Press.

The launch follows several possible attacks in Iran in the past two weeks. There was a fire at Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment plant last week. There was an explosion on June 26 near a military facility in the east of the capital city of Tehran. On June 28, an apparent gas explosion in Tehran left 19 people dead.

Iran originally downplayed the Natanz incident but later admitted that centrifuges at the secret facility were damaged, according to The Associated Press.

Neither Israel nor Iran has made any statements on the responsibility for the fire at Natanz. Israel openly opposes Iran’s nuclear program, which it says aims to give the Islamic Republic nuclear weapons — charges Iran denies.

The New York Times reported that the Natanz event was an explosion triggered by a bomb and that Israel was responsible, citing an unidentified Middle Eastern intelligence official. There was also speculation in Arabic-language media that Israel attacked the facility.

Israel also suspected Iran of being behind a cyberattack on its water and sewage systems in April.

Israel rarely comments on its alleged military operations abroad, but Israeli officials have made statements indicating their responsibility for striking Iranian targets in Syria this year.

Iran likewise has satellite capabilities. In April, Tehran launched its first military satellite into orbit.

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