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    Iranian Disinformation Campaigns in Israel

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    Iranian Disinformation Campaigns

    Summary

    Iran has conducted increasingly elaborate and sophisticated disinformation campaigns against Israel, to undermine the domestic unity of their primary adversary in the region. Despite the recent discovery and closure of a disinformation network targeting the Haredi community, it is almost certain that these influence operations will continue and evolve. Moreover, it is almost certain that Iranian disinformation campaigns will exploit developments in the corruption case against Israel’s former PM Netanyahu. Furthermore, it is almost certain that Iran’s disinformation will continue to attempt to exacerbate the grievances of Israel’s Haredi community, due to their growing resentment towards their loss of political influence. As Iran’s disinformation campaigns have shown increasing sophistication and depth, it is highly likely that it will continue to improve and increasingly operate networks on encrypted platforms.

    Key Judgement 1

    It is almost certain that Iranian disinformation campaigns will utilise developments in the current Netanyahu corruption case over the next 12 months.

    • Iranian disinformation campaigns attempt to amplify division and sow discontent in their targeted countries, utilising divisive political developments to their advantage.

    • In 2021, there was a concerted effort by Iranian operatives to infiltrate and intensify the Israeli anti-government protest movement, creating inauthentic personas and social media channels with around 7,000 followers.

    • Iranian disinformation campaigns have also targeted the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, propagating inflammatory far-right, anti-Arab and pro-Netanyahu content.

    • The corruption trial is a divisive issue in Israeli society and has revealed illegal police surveillance, providing ample material for the basis of new disinformation operations.

    Key Judgement 2

    It is almost certain that Iranian disinformation campaigns will continue to inflame grievances of Israel’s Haredi community er the next 12 months.

    • Independent disinformation watchdogs uncovered a large network on multiple social media platforms run by an Iranian disinformation unit targeting the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) community, operating ‘strictly religious’ Facebook groups and inauthentic Haredi personas with up to 2,800 friends.

    • The Haredi community have lost political influence since the fall of Netanyahu’s government, due to Netanyahu’s consistent coalitions and alliances with Haredi parties.

    • Due to their loss of influence Haredi leaders and their communities have forcefully denounced the secular politics of the new government coalition, as well as the perceived threat to their current protections in Israeli society and the influence of Arab coalition partners in the new government.

    • The perceived lack of status of the Haredim under the current government has worsened the grievances of the Haredi community and has emboldened Iranian disinformation campaigns.

    Key Judgement 3

    It is highly likely Iranian disinformation campaigns will develop and increase operations on encrypted platforms over the next 12 months.

    • Iran has demonstrated its ability to develop their disinformation campaigns, based on previous failings and flaws, towards more sophisticated and elaborate operations.

    • As Iranian disinformation campaigns are being exposed by an independent watchdog, all reports regarding the flaws in their operations are publicly accessible, allowing Iran to utilise this information to improve their operations.

    • Private groups on encrypted platforms are less likely to be uncovered due to the inability of outside parties to view and analyse its content.

    • As targets of Iranian disinformation campaigns are often activists or individuals with extreme beliefs, they frequently operate on encrypted platforms due to their suspicions of government surveillance.
    Ethan Lierens
    Ethan Lierens
    Ethan is a graduate in History and Politics from the University of Exeter. Following his bachelor’s degree he completed a master’s degree in Intelligence and International Security at King’s College London. His research focuses are disinformation campaigns, post-soviet politics and conflict in the Middle East. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ethan-lloyd-lierens-31a2b4154

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