Israeli officials suspect Raisi's death in helicopter crash, deny involvement

While Jerusalem refraining from official comment on helicopter crash involving Iran president, Israeli sources deny link to incident; senior officials believe Raisi's death will have no significant impact on Israel

Israel is closely monitoring reports from Iran Sunday about the helicopter crash involving, among others, President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. As in the West, there is speculation in Israel that Raisi, known as the "Butcher of Tehran," did not survive the crash.
Israeli officials are refraining from commenting on the incident. However, unofficial sources have clarified that the country had no connection or involvement in the helicopter crash, which reportedly occurred due to severe weather conditions near Jolfa, a city close to the Azerbaijani border, approximately 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of Iran's capital, Tehran.
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נשיא איראן איברהים ראיסי
נשיא איראן איברהים ראיסי
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
(Photo: Iran's Presidency/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)
Senior Israeli officials said that the apparent deaths of Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian are not expected to impact Israel or its policy toward the Islamic Republic.
The only potential consequence depends on who will succeed Iran's president. One possibility mentioned is the return of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who served as Iran's sixth president from 2005 to 2013 and is considered a bitter enemy of Israel.
The senior officials added that aside from changes within Iran, there will be no impact on Israel because the decisions regarding Israel are made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is the one who made key decisions about the nuclear program and the campaign of terror against Israel. In this regard, Raisi's death will not change anything for better or worse.
However, the deaths of the Iranian officials could encourage the opposition in Iran, which might exploit the leadership transition to increase instability in the country.
Iranian crowds gather for mass public prayer after President Ibrahim Raisi's helicopter goes missing

News of the helicopter crash reached U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during a series of meetings in Israel. President Biden reportedly cut his vacation short due to the reports emerging from Iran.
Israeli officials anticipated that some within Iran would try to spread conspiracy theories about purported Israel's involvement in the crash.
The Cyber Army of the Revolutionary Guards, a website affiliated with the powerful ideologically driven branch of the Iranian armed forces, wrote "the crash of the helicopter carrying government officials makes the possibility of assassination and sabotage strong, and the crash of the president's personal helicopter among the three helicopters makes this possibility almost certain. There was a meeting with the Zionist regime of Azerbaijan before the incident. Imam Reza, you are our hope."
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