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Israel behind gas pipeline attacks in Iran—report

The IRGC military strategist said Iran held Israel responsible given the complexity and size of the operation.

Explosions rocked a gas pipeline in Iran on Feb. 14, 2024. Source: Screenshot.
Explosions rocked a gas pipeline in Iran on Feb. 14, 2024. Source: Screenshot.

Two Western officials and an Iranian military strategist linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have accused Israel of being behind attacks on two major natural gas pipelines in Iran last week, The New York Times reported on Friday.

On Feb. 14 at around 1:00 a.m., blasts hit several points along two pipelines in the Iranian provinces of Fars and Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari. Iranian officials immediately labeled them “sabotage.”

The IRGC military strategist said Iran held Israel responsible given the complexity and size of the operation, according to the report. He said collaborators inside Iran were almost certainly involved to discern how and where to strike.

Jerusalem declined to comment on the attack.

The blasts signify an escalation in the shadow war waged between Iran and Israel, the paper noted. While Israel has long targeted Iran’s military and nuclear sites, by blowing up energy infrastructure it disrupted the supply of heat and cooking gas to millions of civilians.

Israel has been accused of waging cyber attacks affecting Iranian civilians, including an October 2021 cyber attack on Iran’s fuel distribution system that paralyzed the Islamic Republic’s 4,300 gas stations.

“The enemy’s plan was to completely disrupt the flow of gas in winter to several main cities and provinces in our country,” Iranian oil minister Javad Owji told the press on Friday.

“Except for the number of villages that were near the gas transmission lines, no province suffered a cut,” said Owji.

However, energy experts estimated that the attacks on the pipelines, which run 800 miles and carry 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to major cities like Tehran and Isfahan, cut 15% of Iran’s daily natural gas production, the Times reported.

Also, local governors and officials from Iran’s national gas company spoke of widespread outages in five provinces. Government buildings closed and Iranian energy experts warned people via social media to dress warmly in colder areas.

“The level of impact was very high because these are two significant pipelines going south to north,” Homayoun Falakshahi, a senior energy analyst at Kpler, a data and analytics firm focused on commodities, energy and other goods, told the Times. “We have never seen anything like this in scale and scope.”

He said the blasts exposed the country’s vulnerability to attacks on its infrastructure. He said Iran has about 40,000 kilometers of natural gas pipelines, most of them underground.

“It’s very difficult to protect this very extensive network of pipelines unless you invest billions in new technology,” said Falakshahi. He estimated it would take days to fix the damage.

Iran has been waging a proxy war against Israel through terror groups like Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. The Houthi rebels in Yemen have also recently become active, firing cruise missiles at Israel and targeting Israeli and international shipping.

Iran also trained as many as 500 terrorists affiliated with the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) based in the Gaza Strip leading up to the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

However, the Islamic Republic has been careful not to attack Israeli and U.S. forces stationed in the region directly.

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Iran, while eager to foil U.S. and Israeli interests in the Middle East, is wary of provoking a direct confrontation. It has quietly urged Hezbollah and other terror groups to show restraint against U.S. forces, the paper said, citing Lebanese and Iraqi officials.

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