Iran Struck First. Then ‘Israel’ Retaliated Massively. Behind the Cyber War Rattling the Middle East

About a month ago, Iranian intelligence launched a cyberattack on water installations in Israel. Perhaps because of the coronavirus crisis, the incident was greeted here with some indifference by the media and the general public, and seemed to pass nearly unnoticed. However, among cyber experts and organizations responsible for national security and infrastructure institutions, it aroused deep concern and intense discussion.

Tuesday morning, The Washington Post reported that Israel was behind a cyberattack on the Bandar Abbas port terminal in southern Iran. According to the report, the attack took place on May 9, caused serious damage and disrupted shipping traffic for days. This apparent retaliation by Israel was clearly intended to send a warning to the Iranians without inflicting real physical harm or casualties.

As for the Iranian attack on Israel, aside from some minor damage to several water valves and control systems that have since been replaced, there was ultimately no significant damage to equipment or to the water supply. However, in cyberwarfare, the psychological-deterrent factor has an important effect and impact on the adversary.

Seeking to publicly play down the seriousness of the incident, the Israel National Cyber Directorate issued a laconic statement nearly two weeks ago, to the effect that “an attempted attack on water-control installations was identified” and added that “the water supply system was not affected and continues to operate normally.” The directorate’s spokeswoman, Libi Oz, declined to divulge any more details – such as who was behind the attack. However, based on American sources, Fox News reported that Iran was responsible.