Photo Credit: Hamed Saber via Wikimedia
Anti-aircraft guns guarding Iran's Natanz Nuclear Facility.

Israel sent an explicit message to Iran early Friday (April 19 IT), firing three missiles at an S-300 surface-to-air missile and radar system parked next door to the Natanz Nuclear Complex at the Artesh Air Base in the city of Isfahan, in Isfahan province. There are reports that Israel used IMI’s supersonic Rampage missile for the attack.

It was clearly an exquisitely surgical strike, illustrating that had they wanted to, Israeli pilots could have just as easily hit the nuclear plant — but chose not to, and that Iran can’t defend itself against it.


The attack came as retaliation for April 14 over-the-top Iranian attack on Israel last weekend that including some 350 explosive suicide drones, cruise missiles and long-range “Emad” ballistic missiles.

Western and Israeli media reported that Israeli aircraft over unspecified airspace outside Iran fired at least three missiles targeting the Artesh Air Base, which serves Iran’s conventional armed forces.

An analyst with commercial satellite firm Hawkeye360 posted satellite imagery showing an S-300PMU2 surface-to-air missile battery position in Esfahan, adding that the strike may have damaged an S-300PMU2 surface-to-air missile battery’s target engagement radar, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Russia provided the S-300 system to Iran in 2016.

Iranian state media and local Iranian social media users suggested that Israel targeted the Eighth Shekari Artesh Air Force Base.

According to a senior US official quoted by ABC News, the Artesh radar site is part of the air defense system protecting the Natanz Nuclear Complex, Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility, located approximately 170 kilometers (106 miles) north of Esfahan.

The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA), along with Western and Iranian media, reported that Israel did not damage any of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Iranian state media and local Iranian social media users separately reported air defense activity over Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, on April 18.

Iranian officials and media have downplayed the severity of Israel’s April 19 airstrikes, suggesting that Iran will not respond to the strikes “forcefully” and “painfully.”

The regime previously made exactly that threat; however, Iranian officials and media claimed that Iranian air defense systems shot down small drones over Isfahan, not missiles.

Senior Iranian military officials, including Artesh Commander Maj. Gen. Abdol Rahim Mousavi and Artesh Ground Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Kiomars Heydari, claimed that Iranian air defense systems intercepted “suspicious aerial objects,” which caused sounds of explosions over Isfahan.

Several Iranian media outlets claimed that Iran’s air defense systems shot down drones, despite Israeli reporting that Israel used long-range missiles to conduct the airstrikes.

Israel has previously conducted attacks inside Iran using small explosive-laden drones.

IRGC-affiliated media circulated videos highlighting the “secure and peaceful” atmosphere in Isfahan, including near nuclear facilities and the Eighth Shekari Artesh Air Base.

IRGC-affiliated media similarly claimed that Tabriz, East Azerbaijan, was “in complete calm” hours after reports of explosions near the city.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) contributed to this report.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.