Tensions continue to rise between the governments of Israel and Iran after the mysterious deaths of an Iranian missile scientist and a senior military officer.
Ayoob Enterazi died under suspicious circumstances on May 31. He was a Ph.D. holder in aerospace engineering at Iran’s prestigious Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. Reports say that he worked in a research and development institute in the city of Yazd, where he allegedly worked on missiles and drones.
Circulating reports say that Entezari returned home from a dinner party with symptoms of food poisoning. He later died in the hospital. These reports also claim that the person who hosted the party has already fled Iran.
After his death, Iranian authorities handed over a letter of appreciation to Enterzari’s family wherein they referred to the scientist as a “martyr,” implying that he was killed. However, central city authorities from the city of Yazd soon backtracked, claiming that the letter was a mistake.
The judiciary in the Yazd said that Entezari was an “ordinary employee at an industrial company” who unfortunately suffered and died from an undisclosed illness in the hospital. They added that suspicions of the scientist being poisoned were only rumors spread by a relative “who wanted to be noticed.”
Local authorities from the city also said Entezari’s death is still being investigated.
“We have to wait for the relevant authorities to announce their view.” Provincial Head of the Communications Department Ali Salehi said.
One Mahmud Entezari, who claimed he was related to the scientist, said that Ayoob Entezari previously mentioned fearing being targeted by Israel after a photo of him alongside former President Hassan Rohani circulated in the news.
“Don’t be surprised if I suffer the same fate as [Mostafa] Ahmadi Roshan,” he quoted the scientist saying, referring to an Iranian nuclear scientist that was assassinated in 2012.
A Series of Deaths in Iran
Entezari’s death came days after another mysterious death of a high-ranking officer in the Iranian military.
Colonel Ali Esmaelzadeh died at his residence in the Tehran suburb last week. He was a senior officer in an elite detachment of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Force, Unit 840, which handles assassination missions against foreigners abroad, according to Israeli authorities. The United States designated the group as a terrorist organization during the Trump Administration.
London-based Persian television channel Iran International first reported his death. The station claimed that Revolutionary Guards officials suspected that Esmaelzadeh was spying for Israel and were responsible for staging his suicide. SOFREP is not able to verify this claim at this time. However, it is important to note that Iran International has links to the Saudi government, which is Tehran’s regional rival.
However, conflicting reports came from the Iranian news media. Sabreen News, a media outlet linked with the Quds Force, reported that the Colonel died after an accident, falling off the balcony of his home under “suspicious circumstances.”
The country’s official news agency, IRNA, also said that Esmaelzadeh died in an accident at his apartment but denied the possibility of being killed. Notably, despite Esmaelzadeh’s high ranking in the military, his death was not reported by the Iranian media until London-based Iran International released the news.
Esmaelzadeh’s death came one week after another killing. Colonel Sayad Khodaei, who was also a senior officer in Unit 840, died in a drive-by shooting. Iran blames Israel for Khodaei’s death, and they were right. Israeli officials informed the United States that they were indeed the ones responsible for the assassination.
“We will make the enemy regret this, and none of the enemy’s evil actions will go unanswered,” the Commander-in-Chief of the Revolution Guards, Gen. Hossein Salami, said.
Revolutionary Guards say colonel assassinated in Tehran
Colonel Sayad Khodaei was gunned down near his house by 2 motorcyclists. Tehran accused anti-revolution groups and agents with ties to Israeli intelligence of the murder
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) May 23, 2022
Israeli officials said Colonel Khodayee was the deputy commander of Unit 840 and was in charge of the detachment’s missions in the Middle East. He was also suspected of having been involved in attempted terror attacks against Israeli, American, and European civilian and government officials over the last two years.
Iran portrayed Khodayee as a martyr and has not responded to Israeli accusations against him. Some Iranian analysts say that the allegations intend to stop the U.S. from removing its terrorist designation on the Revolutionary Guards, which then blocks the restoration of the Iran Nuclear Deal.
“We are also in a disinformation war with Israel,” analyst Gheis Ghoreishi said. “These provocations are designed to pressure all sides to call off the nuclear deal or push Iran to react in a way that would be damaging. But Iran always takes the long-term calculative approach.”
These reports come after the Parchin military complex outside Tehran was allegedly attacked by Israeli forces. The complex is reported to be where Iran develops missiles, nuclear weapons, and drone technology.
Will Iran-Israeli tensions continue to rise? SOFREP remains vigilant for any further information that may develop out of these deaths.