Israel's military chief Aviv Kochavi has warned Iran that any attack against the Jewish state will be responded with a forceful attack. "Lately, we've noticed a rise in Iranian threats against Israel," Kochavi said during a ceremony on Monday, referring to fears of Iranian retaliation to the recent death of an Iranian nuclear scientist who was allegedly assassinated by Israel.

Days earlier, reports said Iranian-linked hackers targeted and compromised Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and leaked sensitive data on the dark web. The attack comes in the backdrop of Iranian pledge to retaliate against the killing of key Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadhe last month. Pay2Key, which carried out the cyberattack against Israel, is a hacker group that had evaded scrutiny in recent years.

Ransomware
Clark County School District came under cyberattack last month (representational image) Pixabay

Kochavi said that if Iran or Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese armed group and party, "will take action against the State of Israel, they will find themselves in a very costly endeavour".

"The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will strike all those involved in activities against Israel or against Israeli targets, whether in part or in full, whether near or far.

"I say these things simply, clearly and with complete commitment: our retaliatory steps have been prepared and rehearsed. I advise our enemies not to test us," he said.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, head of the Iranian Defence Ministry's Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research and dubbed the "father of the Iranian bomb", was targeted in a terrorist attack in the city of Absard on November 27.

President Hassan Rouhani has blamed Israel for the scientist's killing.

Rising Tensions

The hack on Israel Aerospace Industries was unveiled Sunday night. The attack targeted various Israeli defense industry corporations. The hackers posting a that teases the Israelis by asking which Israeli organization was the "most secure".

Iran has put Israel in the dock for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadhe, the architect of Iran's military nuclear programme. His killing was the second major blow for Iran this year, following the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the most senior commander of the Quds Forces, in a US air strike in Baghdad.

"A top Iranian official said arch foe Israel was behind the attack. "In the last days of the political life of their ... ally (Trump), the Zionists seek to intensify pressure on Iran and create a full-blown war," Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said. He vowed retribution for the killing of Fakhrizadeh. "We will strike as thunder at the killers of this oppressed martyr and will make them regret their action," he said.