Iran-Israel April 2024-

Written by  //  April 26, 2024  //  Iran, Israel, Middle East & Arab World  //  Comments Off on Iran-Israel April 2024-

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25-26 April
Is an Anti-Iran Alliance Emerging in the Middle East?
The Limits of Cooperation Between Israel and the Arab States
By Dalia Dassa Kaye and Sanam Vakil
(Foreign Affairs) … To be sure, Israel’s future strategy against Iran may take regional considerations into greater account, given the unprecedented nature of April’s military exchanges. But the realities in the region that inhibit Arab-Israeli cooperation have not significantly changed. Even before Hamas’s October 7 attack and Israel’s subsequent war on Gaza, the Arab states that signed the 2020 Abraham Accords, embracing normalization with Israel, were growing frustrated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for expanding Israeli settlements in the West Bank and his tolerance for his far-right ministers’ attempts to undermine the status quo in Jerusalem. A string of deadly attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians in West Bank towns in the spring of 2023 further inflamed regional tensions. After Israel launched its military operations in Gaza in October, prompting waves of protests across the Middle East, Arab leaders became even more hesitant to openly back Israel, aware that open cooperation could hurt their domestic legitimacy.

The nuclear threats that loom over Iran and Israel
(WaPo) A volley of back-and-forth strikes between Israel and Iran, culminating with explosions in the Islamic Republic on Friday, added a nuclear edge to the regional fallout from the war in Gaza. Here, the world watched two powers with nuclear technology — one with not-so-secret weapons, the other with ambiguous arms ambitions — as they threatened to strike each other’s nuclear sites.
… More than half a century after their covert development began, Israel’s nuclear weapons are a fait accompli. Israel is the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East — an open secret even if not acknowledged by the country nor governed by international agreements. Iran, meanwhile, does not possess nuclear weapons. However, its pursuit of nuclear technology, which it claims is not for military purposes, has left it internationally isolated.
Worryingly, norms appeared to be changing. Iran’s strike on Israel the weekend before had marked the first time it had struck the country from its soil. Last Thursday, an Iranian official warned that if Israel struck at their nuclear sites, they could reconsider their official stance on the development of nuclear weapons and potentially target Israeli nuclear facilities.

18-19 April
How Iran’s attack will force Israel to rethink its security
C. Uday Bhaskar
Tehran’s aerial strike and Hamas’ October 7 surprise attack are reminders that Tel Aviv’s deterrence capabilities are not infallible
Major powers must pursue diplomacy to ensure the region does not descend into greater turmoil and bloodshed
(SCMP) Given the tangled history and geopolitics of the West Asian region, Israeli security planners will have to develop an effective template that internalises the deterrence lapses book-ended by the October 7 and April 13 setbacks. Nuclear weapons do not deter determined terror groups, as we have learned from the events of September 11, the 2008 Mumbai attacks and cases of extremist violence in Russia.
Israel is now part of that group of nations, where the possession of WMD capabilities does not provide any failproof insurance against rival non-state entities taking recourse to terrorism or against states that enable and support their activities.
Given the sociopolitical choices Israel has made in relation to Palestine, Iran and the Arab world in general, the IDF will need to define a more appropriate form of deterrence against both state and non-state challenges to ensure credible security for Israeli citizens.
While Iran may be seen as a more abiding challenge for Tel Aviv, with hardliners demonising the US and Israel, the challenge posed by Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels is much more volatile. Both Israel and the region have been convulsed by the covert and direct actions of such proxies.
Israel is expected to respond militarily to the Iranian attack. At the time of writing, reports say a response may be “imminent”. Such a course of action will perhaps ensure the survival of the beleaguered government of Benjamin Netanyahu and also increase the probability of escalation – but the deterrence conundrum for Israel will remain.
With the war in Ukraine simmering and Gaza devastated, West Asia should not be allowed to slide into greater regional turmoil and bloodshed, leading to further disruption of the global economy with dire consequences for human security. The major powers that have the leverage with Iran and Israel must pursue quiet diplomacy with equitable firmness.
An Iran-Israel War?
(Project Syndicate) While the vast majority of the more than 300 drones and missiles were shot down by Israel and its partners – primarily the United States but also the United Kingdom and Jordan – the attack represented a grave escalation between the regional foes, raising fears of a broader Middle East conflagration.
The Middle East Needs a Ceasefire Now
Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, however, sees a possible silver lining: “Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel could generate an equally unprecedented breakthrough for peace in the Middle East.” The first step must be for the United Nations Security Council to “pass a binding resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and across the region.”
The Urgency of Palestinian Statehood
The next step, argues former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, is widespread international recognition of Palestinian statehood, with all the “legitimacy, leverage, and bargaining power” that this implies. Internationally recognized statehood would open the way for a “political solution that satisfies legitimate Palestinian aspirations,” which is in Israel’s own interest, as it seeks to exorcise the “specter of terrorism.”
Israel Must End the Gaza War
It is also in Israel’s interest to end its war in Gaza quickly, explains Dennis Ross, a former director of policy planning at the US State Department. Israel is already close to achieving the only strategic objective that matters – demilitarizing Gaza and setting the stage for an alternative to rule by Hamas – and continuing the war will almost certainly weaken support for Israel, including in the US. And, as Iran’s recent attack demonstrated anything, Israel needs the US.
The Gaza War Goes Global
But having the US on its side may not be enough. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer notes that Iran’s strike on Israel highlights the growing willingness and ability of new and emerging powers to challenge the West. In any transition away from the US-led world order, Iran’s theocratic regime may well be “among the big winners.”
Israel’s limited strike on Iran appears designed to avoid escalation
(WaPo) Israel’s retaliatory strike against Iran on Friday appears to have been very limited in scope and designed to avoid turning the long-running shadow war between the two Middle East rivals into a full-blown conflagration, according to analysts and officials.
The Israeli military carried out the strikes against the central province of Isfahan and possibly Tabriz early Friday. Iranian authorities almost immediately said that no damage was caused and that reported explosions were just antiaircraft measures.
With both sides Friday seeking to downplay the strike, the chances of immediate escalation between the two rivals appeared to be easing, analysts said. (AP) Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

The unspoken story of why Israel didn’t clobber Iran
By David Ignatius
Here’s my take: Israel is behaving like the leader of a regional coalition against Iran. In its measured response, it appeared to be weighing the interests of its allies in this coalition — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan — which all provided quiet help in last weekend’s shoot-down. It’s playing the long game, in other words.
Iran and Israel’s War Comes Out of the Shadows
Why Tehran’s Hard-Liners Chose to Escalate
By Afshon Ostovar, an Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and the author of the forthcoming Wars of Ambition: The United States, Iran, and the Struggle for the Middle East.
(Foreign Affairs) …the operation revealed the ascendance of the IRGC’s hawks in Tehran and the depth of their desire to take Israel head-on.
… The Iranian-Israeli conflict has played out mostly in the shadows of the Middle East’s larger wars. Iran’s principal mode of waging this fight has been to supply advanced weaponry—especially missiles and drones—to militant groups hostile to Israel in the Gaza Strip and in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen … Tehran wants to destabilize Israel by ensnaring it in persistent conflict and surrounding it with enemies that it cannot easily defeat through military action.
… As long as Iran continues to press in its strategy of encircling Israel, and funneling advanced weapons to militant proxies that threaten Israeli population centers, Israel will be compelled to pursue its countervailing campaign against Iran. The longer that dynamic continues, the more likely open warfare between the two countries becomes. Such a war could not be fought by Iran and Israel in isolation. It would invariably draw in the United States, Iran’s regional proxies, and perhaps even neighboring states. It would range across a large swath of the region and, because of the many actors involved, would probably not be short. In truth, whether in a week, a year, or another decade, an open war between Iran and Israel in some form is all but inevitable. Indeed, the region may already be on the precipice, awaiting the plunge.

Israel gave US last-minute warning about drone attack on Iran, Italian foreign minister says at G7
(AP) — The United States told the Group of Seven foreign ministers on Friday that it received “last minute” information from Israel about a drone action in Iran, but didn’t participate in the apparent attack, officials said.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who chaired the meeting of ministers of industrialized countries, said the United States provided the information at a Friday morning session that was changed at the last minute to address the suspected attack.

Iran, Israel and What Comes Next
“If one missile lands in the wrong spot, we’re in a different ballgame”
Mark Leon Goldberg
(Global Dispatches) Late Thursday night, Israel confirmed a strike in Iran, with media reports indicating a military airbase in Isfahan was targeted by drones. The base is near an Iranian nuclear facility, but there is no indication that the nuclear facility was impacted by this attack, nor was the intended target. The damage seems limited and Iran seems to be playing down the incident in state media.
Still, we are another rung up the ladder of escalation. If Israel and Iran keep climbing, there may be an all out war — and potentially drag the United States deeper into conflict in the Middle East.

Israeli Officials Claim Strikes on Iran
(NYT) Senior Iranian officials reported overnight blasts at a military base near the city of Isfahan. The explosions came after Israel vowed retaliation for Iran’s first-ever direct strike on the country.
The Israeli military struck Iran early on Friday, according to two Israeli defense officials, in what appeared to be Israel’s first military response to Iran’s attack on Israel five days earlier.
Three Iranian officials confirmed that a strike had hit a military air base near the city of Isfahan, in central Iran, early on Friday, but did not say which country had mounted the attack. Fars News, an Iranian news agency affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said that explosions were heard near Isfahan’s civilian airport, adding that the cause of the blasts was not immediately clear.

16 April
Iran says next attack could be ‘much bigger’
(CNN) On Sunday, Iran said a “new equation” in its adversarial relationship with Israel had been opened, and warned of a “much bigger” assault on the country should Netanyahu decide on a tit-for-tat attack.
“We have decided to create a new equation, which is that if from now on the Zionist regime attacks our interests, assets, personalities, and citizens, anywhere, and at any point we will retaliate against them,” the Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami told Iranian state TV. The “Zionist regime” is a term Iran uses to refer to Israel.
Earlier, Sardar Bagheri, the Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, had said: “If the Zionist regime responds, our next operation will be much bigger.”
Iran’s attacks targeted the Israeli airbase from which, it said, the strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus was launched. Iranian ballistic missiles that reached Israel fell on the airbase in southern Israel, and caused only light structural damage, Hagari said.
Bagheri said that from Iran’s perspective, the military operation against Israel “has concluded.” But he emphasized that Iranian armed forces remain on high alert and are prepared to “act if necessary,” according to an interview on state IRINN TV on Sunday.

14-15 April

Why did Iran attack Israel? What to know about the strikes, U.S. response.
By Niha Masih, Jennifer Hassan and Maham Javaid
(WaPo) Iran launched a wave of missiles and drones toward Israel late Saturday as regional tensions continued to mount over the war in Gaza. President Biden condemned the attack and spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reiterate the United States’ “ironclad” commitment to Israeli security, the White House said. Other allies including Germany, Canada, France and Britain reaffirmed their support for Israel in the wake of the attack while expressing fears that Tehran’s assault could further destabilize the Middle East.
Iranian media said the attack was in retaliation for an Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Damascus, Syria, which killed members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including senior commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hadi Haj Rahimi.

Israel weighs strike on Iran to ‘send a message’ while preserving alliance
(WaPo) Israel’s war cabinet deliberated Monday how to respond to Iran’s unprecedented aerial assault without rankling allies and squandering an opportunity to build an international alliance against Tehran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the Israel Defense Forces to provide a target list, according to an official familiar with high-level discussions, who said Israel is mulling retaliation that would “send a message” but not cause casualties.
Iran strikes Israel. How will Netanyahu respond?
Tasha Kheiriddin
(GZERO media) The slow-motion nature of the attack, which gave Israel and its allies hours to prepare, led some analysts to call itmore symbolic than serious. However, it allowed Iran to gauge Israel’s capabilities, see who would come to the Jewish state’s aid, and learn how other regional powers and groups would respond to an Iranian barrage.
Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia came to Israel’s defense, according to Israeli military intelligence. The two monarchies both have close ties to the US, Jordan shares a border with Israel, and there is no love lost between Iran’s Shi’a fundamentalist government and the Saudi Sunni monarchy and religious authorities.
But according to Masoud Mostajabi, deputy director of the Middle East Programs at the Atlantic Council, “… if tonight’s attacks escalate into a wider Israel-Iran conflict, regional actors perceived as defenders of Israel may find themselves targeted and dragged into the regional conflagration.”
“Israel is currently weighing options. Strikes on Iran directly are possible, but it appears that the war cabinet is divided over how to respond,” says Eurasia Group analyst Greg Brew. “Bombing Iran in response to Saturday’s attack would likely escalate the confrontation and compel Iran to attack again – this time with less warning and stage-managing.”
Iran has warned that attacks by its allies won’t stop until the war in Gaza ends – but that ending is still nowhere in sight. On Sunday, Hamas rejected the latest proposal for a deal presented a week ago by mediators Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.
According to Eurasia Group and GZERO Media President Ian Bremmer, the Iranian attack is “going to be a big distraction away from the war in Gaza. [This] doesn’t mean that Israel suddenly loses its isolation or wins the PR war globally,” he says, “And there’s also less pressure for Netanyahu to be forced out domestically in the near future.”

Iran is trying to create a new normal with its attack. Here’s how Israel and the US should respond.
By William F. Wechsler, Senior director of Middle East Programs and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combatting terrorism
While Hamas might be desperate for a wider conflagration, its patron Iran is certainly quite satisfied by the post-October 7 status quo, from which it benefits immensely.
(Atlantic Council) Iran’s supreme leader took his time to consider how and where to respond to Israel’s strike in Damascus on April 1. The United States and Israel should similarly take time to consider what he likely intended to accomplish with this weekend’s retaliation and what messages he was trying to send.
Most immediately, Tehran clearly intended to deter Israel from once again targeting its diplomatic facilities—locations that it previously thought were safe enough to use for military purposes. Israel’s longstanding “war between the wars” has put Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps officers at risk when operating near Israel’s borders, so Tehran is undoubtedly loath to see its remaining sanctuaries become an accepted part of the battlefield.
Operationally, Iran sent an unmistakable signal that it wanted to avoid a further escalation that could spark a truly regional war. It chose long-range attacks that could be readily thwarted by known Israeli defenses and pointedly did not target any US facilities. It did this all while issuing extraordinary statements (in English) that “the matter can be deemed concluded” and that “U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!” (emphasis in the original).
While Hamas might be desperate for a wider conflagration, its patron Iran is certainly quite satisfied by the post-October 7 status quo, from which it benefits immensely. For many people across the region, awash with images of Palestinian suffering, their perceptions of Iran have never been more positive, as it alone is “standing up” to Israel—previously through its proxies and now directly as well.

What does Israel want to do after Iran’s drone and missile attacks?
Analysts look at the reasons behind Israel’s attack on Iran’s consulate, which triggered Iran’s overnight barrage on Israel.
(Al Jazeera) Laying the foundation on April 1?
In determining how Israel may respond to the overnight attack, analysts have focused on Israel’s own attack on the Iranian consulate on April 1.
That strike, which killed two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) generals and five officers, was carried out with scant regard to Israel’s allies, who were only notified shortly ahead of the attack, according to at least one analyst Al Jazeera spoke to.
Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at SWP Berlin, outlined two scenarios, both resting upon the motivations behind the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate.
In the first scenario, the Israeli strike occurred with little or no thought given to the consequences. In the second, the strike was a deliberate attempt to draw Iran into regional war and shift US and Western focus away from Israel’s war on Gaza and towards the regional bogeyman, Iran.
In both scenarios, US involvement would be critical.
Despite its status as a regional superpower, Israel – overstretched by six months of war on Gaza – would stand little chance against Iran’s standing army of at least 580,000, supplemented by some 200,000 trained reserve personnel, divided among the army and the IRGC.
“Netanyahu’s plan is clear, to distract attention from the war in Gaza and to drag the US and other Western allies back into the Middle East,” Nomi Bar-Yaacov, an associate fellow at Chatham House, said.
“Given the close relationship between Israel and the US and Israel’s dependency on US aid, Israel should have informed the US that it was planning to attack the Iranian consulate building where the IRGC is based.
“By not doing so, Israel crossed a red line. Israel’s motives … need to be questioned. An attack on a foreign consulate constitutes a strike on foreign soil under international law, and it is clear that Netanyahu knew he was crossing the line and that Iran would respond with force,” she said.

11-13 April
April 13: IDF says Iran fired 200 missiles and drones; most intercepted; minor damage at IDF base
(Times of Israel) Unprecedented assault triggered sirens nationwide, booms of interceptions IAF, US, UK, Jordan intercepted projectiles
Here’s how Iran’s strike on Israel has unfolded
The U.S. has downed some of the incoming drones.
(Politico) Iran has made good on its threat to retaliate against a deadly strike on its consulate in Syria with a large aerial strike against Israel on Saturday.
It is important to know that these attacks, unlike others in the past, are explicitly and directly coming from the Iranian government and its military. Iranian-backed proxies, including Lebanon-based Hezbollah and Hamas, have sparred with Israeli forces on and off for years, and Hezbollah has regularly fired rockets at Israeli targets since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in October.
Iranian-backed proxies, including Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Hezbollah, have launched their own coinciding strikes at Israel.
Iran said around 6 p.m. EST that it concluded its military action, according to an X post from Tehran’s mission to the United Nations.
Foreign Affairs: On Friday, Israel was bracing for an attack by Iran or its proxies after Tehran vowed to retaliate for an April 1 Israeli airstrike on Syria in which seven members of the Revolutionary Guards including two generals were killed, sparking fears that an already volatile climate in the Middle East, with Israel and Hamas in Gaza at war, could quickly spiral further. Although the tit-for-tat strikes are the latest in a long-running shadow war between the two countries, the risk for miscalculation and escalation continue to grow.
Iran’s IRGC seizes ‘Israeli-linked’ ship near Strait of Hormuz
IRGC forces conducted an operation via helicopter to take control of the commercial vessel, state media reports.
12 April
Iran warns U.S. to stay out of fight with Israel or face attack on troops
(Axios)  Why it matters: The U.S. and Israel are preparing for Iran to retaliate against Israel for an airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in Damascus last week.
The Iranian supreme leader has threatened “punishment” for Israel but through private channels Iran has signaled it would be limited.

11 April
Will Iran attack Israel?
(GZERO media) There are rising concerns over how Iran will retaliate to a recent Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, that killed several top Iranian commanders and enraged Tehran. US President Joe Biden on Wednesday warned that Iran is threatening a “significant attack” against Israel, and he promised Washington’s “ironclad” support to the Jewish state.

1 April
Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Syria killed two generals, Iranian officials say
(AP) — An Israeli airstrike that demolished Iran’s consulate in Syria on Monday killed Gen. Ali Reza Zahdi, who led the elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016, according to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. It also killed Zahdi’s deputy, Gen Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other officers, according to Syrian and Iranian officials. The strike appeared to signify an escalation of Israel’s targeting of military officials from Iran, which provides money and weapons to Hamas and other militants responsible for the Oct. 7 attack against Israel.

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