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Strike Was Meant to Show Iran that Israel Could Paralyze Its Defenses

WorldStrike Was Meant to Show Iran that Israel Could Paralyze Its Defenses

An Israeli airstrike on Iran on Friday damaged an air defense system, according to Western and Iranian officials, and appeared calculated to deliver a message that Israel could bypass Iran’s defensive systems undetected and paralyze them.

The strike damaged a defensive battery near Natanz, a city in central Iran that is critical to the country’s nuclear weapons program, according to the officials.

Even though the Israeli attack was in retaliation for Iran’s aerial barrage last week, it used a fraction of the firepower Tehran deployed. That attack, intercepted by Israel and its allies, caused minimal damage.

The strike on Friday was the latest salvo in a series of tit-for-tat attacks between the two countries this month that have heightened fears of a broader regional conflict. The relatively limited scope of Israel’s strike and the muted response from Iranian officials, however, seem to have eased tensions.

The two Iranian officials said the strike on Friday had damaged an S-300 antiaircraft system at a military base in the nearby province of Isfahan. The officials’ account is supported by satellite imagery analyzed by The New York Times, which showed damage to the radar of an S-300 system at the Eighth Shekari Air Base in Isfahan.

It was unclear what sort of weapon struck the Iranian air defense system. Three Western and two Iranian officials confirmed on Friday that Israel had deployed aerial drones and at least one missile fired from a warplane. Previously, Iranian officials said the attack on the military base had been conducted by small drones, most likely launched from inside Iranian territory.

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