If you look at the Iran-Contra affair (mostly around 1985), you'll see that the middleman in the arms for money/hostages deal were Israeli companies.

Were Israeli-Iran relations better at that point? I assume the Israeli government knew about that deal. Was it just because, at the time of the Iran-Iraq War, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"? At the same time, Hizbollah already was active in Lebanon, so that bit of irritation existed already.

What changed? Palestinians are mostly Sunni, are they not? So not an obvious faction for Iran to support. And both countries are far from each other. What motivated the escalating enmity, besides Iran's nuclear ambitions?

  • 1
    Why is it not obvious that Iran would support Sunni Muslims: they are, after all, Muslims. First you subjugate the infidels, then you worry about the heretics.
    – jamesqf
    Jun 27, 2018 at 16:29
  • 3
    You might want to pay attention to Shia<=>Sunni terrorism. Pakistan, Iraq, etc.. The extremists really don't like each other much. There is some Muslim theology supporting tolerance for People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians, but Islam also has a particular doctrinal dislike of apostasy and, for some, being of the wrong Muslim faith is basically not being a Muslim. So, no, it's not obvious. Jun 28, 2018 at 6:22
  • Why did you delete my answer, @Semaphore? Jul 2, 2018 at 5:52
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    @AndréLevy it was a copypaste of a Wikipedia article.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 2, 2018 at 6:39

2 Answers 2


According to Ronen Bergman, in his book The Secret War With Iran, there were four factors motivating Israel's Operation Seashell, in which hundreds of tons of Israeli weapons were airlifted or shipped to Iran during the Iran–Iraq war:

  • Israel had sustained significant losses due to the 1979 revolution in Iran. Since weapons were the Iranian rulers means of holding on to power, it was hoped that supplying weapons would earn a certain improvement in relations, despite Iran's ideological opposition.
  • Intensifying the Iran-Iraq war could weaken both sides, which was a desirable objective for the Israelis.
  • Israel deeply feared the prospect of a victorious Saddam Hussein.
  • A simple desire to profit, on the part of the defense industry.
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    +1, but what's missing here is the evolution since. From a wiki link previously posted, it would seem that internal politics had a lot to do on either side - both the Israeli and the Iranian government benefited from taking a hard stance against an external enemy. Although, again, Hizbollah is a real factor. And, Iran is also trying to seduce Arab populations which are neither Shite nor Persian. Still, from this (admittedly low) level of collaboration to threatening nuclear annihilation is quite the jump. Jul 3, 2018 at 16:54

(I've decided to add this as a partial answer, rather than edit the question).

One significant event was the 1994 Amia Bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentinia, which killed 80+, in a Jewish community center. Iran is alleged to have been involved, via Hizbollah. Hizbollah-linked organizations and operatives are alleged to have either claimed responsibility or been praised for this terrorist act.

This bombing followed the earlier 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy killing 30, again with substantial claims of Iranian involvement via its Hizbollah proxies.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMIA_bombing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992_attack_on_Israeli_embassy_in_Buenos_Aires

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