Military Chief Says Israel Will Continue to Use 'Variety of Tools' Amid Cyber Confrontation With Iran

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IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi at a ceremony marking the change of leadership at Israel's Home Front Command, May 19, 2020.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi at a ceremony marking the change of leadership at Israel's Home Front Command, May 19, 2020.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, said Tuesday that Israel would “continue to act using a variety of military tools and unique methods of combat to strike the enemy,” a day after the Washington Post reported that Israel was behind a cyberattack against a port in southern Iran on the coast of the Strait of Hormuz.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the change of leadership of the Home Front Command, the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff also vowed to retaliate forcefully to any aggression, even if it meant striking populated areas. “The enemy has chosen to deploy missiles and rockets in the villages, thus turning them into military targets,” Kochavi told the audience. “And so, when the crucial day comes, the enemy will find that, by their own hand, they have turned the home front into a battlefront, and we will attack powerfully.”

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“When the Israeli home front is threatened by thousands of missiles and rockets, we will not hesitate to attack powerfully to thwart the threats,” Kochavi said at the ceremony, adding: “Unlike the enemy, we will act offensively and morally at the same time, and we will base our action on intelligence and operational need. Dozens of attacks carried out, recently as well, have proven the IDF’s superiority and fire power.”

The Washington Post report, quoting unnamed U.S. and foreign intelligence sources, said that the May 9 attack on Bandar Abbas port disrupted maritime traffic for several days. Mohammad Rastad, the CEO of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, told Iranian news agency ILNA last week that the attack did not damage the organization’s main computer, but only a number of private computer systems connected to it. However, a foreign security official said that the attack was carried out with a high degree of precision and that the damage to the port was more serious than reported in Iran. “There was total disarray,” the official said.

The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not respond to the report.

Officials from the United States and other countries told the Washington Post that the assault was carried out in retaliation to an Iranian attempt to hack Israeli water distribution systems. Earlier this month, the same paper reported that Iran was behind an April cyberattack on an Israeli water distribution system. According to the report, officials with knowledge of the details said the attempt was identified before significant damage was done to the installations.

At the ceremony on Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Uri Gordin replaced Maj. Gen. Tami Yadai as Home Front Command chief.

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