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Israel says 'it wasn't us' after Raisi Iran chopper crash

Israel says 'it wasn't us' after Raisi Iran chopper crash sparks finger pointing
MENA
3 min read
20 May, 2024
Fingers have pointed at Israel after a helicopter carrying Ebrahim Raisi and other top Iranian aides crashed into a mountainside on Sunday.
Raisi and Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian both died in the helicopter crash [Getty]

Israel has denied any involvement in a helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday, following finger-pointing on social media about alleged culprits.

Hardliners Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and other senior Iranian officials perished when their helicopter crashed into a mountainside in bad weather with search-and-rescue efforts hampered by thick fog.

While there has been no confirmation about the cause of the crash, some people on social media have accused Iran's regional enemy, Israel, of being behind the incident with the two countries clashing in recent weeks.

"This is the footage of the crash of the chopper that killed the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, yesterday. The hand of Israel is strongly being discussed in Iran. Are we staring at World War 3?" one person speculated on Twitter.

Iran itself has not accused Israel but the incident came amid heightened tensions between the two countries related to Gaza and Lebanon, where Tehran supports Hamas and Hezbollah.

The fact that the helicopter was returning from Azerbaijan - an Israeli ally - when it plunged into the remote wilderness of northern Iran did little to stop the finger-pointing.

"It is noteworthy that the last meeting of the Iranian President was with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Israel has established an intelligence base, an airfield, and an agreement to develop two new surveillance satellites from Azerbaijan. All of that is about Iran," wrote British-Iraqi rapper Lowkey.

While there has been no official denial from Israel, one unnamed Israeli government source categorically denied any involvement in the death of the Iranian president and foreign minister. "It wasn't us," the official told Reuters.

Although tensions between Iran and Israel have been fraught for decades, the two countries have been involved in direct clashes for the first time.

On 1 April, Israel struck an Iranian diplomatic annex in Damascus killing senior IRGC figures including Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

The assassinations led to retaliatory strikes on Israel by Iran, albeit with several hours of warning.

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Shortly after, Israel appeared to wrap the incident up by engaging in low-level strikes on Iran.

Since then, tensions have somewhat eased, with the US sending top-level officials to Oman to hold indirect talks with Iran on regional issues over the weekend.

Despite the Israeli government's silence on the issue, several leading rabbis have celebrated Raisi's demise.

Iran will now be investigating the cause of the crash but conspiracies of Iranian involvement in the incident will likely continue until then.