Iran’s planned strike against Israel puts the Middle East on the brink of wider conflict but other …

Iran’s planned strike against Israel puts the Middle East on the brink of wider conflict but other nations are baulking at the concept


/ By Norman Hermant

Posted , updated 

For decades, Israel and Iran have exchanged blows indirectly through terror attacks, strikes on proxies, and assassinations but by many measures, Iran’s weekend attack on Israel was unprecedented.

The scale of the strike was enormous: Israel’s military said more than 300 ‘kamikaze’ drones, cruise and ballistic missiles were launched by Iran and its allies.

Israel claimed 99 per cent were intercepted before they struck the country.

Dr Alam Saleh, an Iranian studies specialist at the Australian National University, says the strike was intended to send a message to Israel and the United States.

“It’s no longer a shadow war, it’s no longer a clandestine kind of intelligence indirect confrontation between Tel Aviv and Tehran. So Tehran, for the first time, directly targets Israel,” Dr Saleh told 7.30

“It was just sending a strong message to Tel Aviv and the United States that, we[will] no longer stay quiet if you want to continue violating international law.”

Biden doesn’t want a war

Iran blames Israel for an air strike on a consulate in Syria two weeks ago that killed senior Iranian military commanders.

Iranians celebrate on a street, after the attack against Israel.(Reuters: Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency )

Iran’s foreign minister said over the weekend that Tehran had given advance warning of the attack to its allies and to Washington.

“The targets, the timing, the scale has been already set with the United States. They knew exactly what time, when and how this will be happening. Next time it won’t, probably,” Dr Saleh said.

With Israel occupied by the war in Gaza, Iran has used the last six months to shore up its military capability and Dr Saleh believes Tehran hopes this attack will act as a deterrent for Israel.

“Iran could do much more,” he said.

“It was only 300 drones. It easily can do 3,000 missiles and drones. And not only from Iran, but also through allies in the region … to make serious damage.”

“Iran doesn’t want really to expand this war, by any means.”

Coincidentally, that is the same tack being taken by US President Joe Biden, according to security analyst Dmitri Alperovitch in Washington.

US President Joe Biden is in an election year and a war in the Middle East could take a heavy toll.(Supplied: White House)

“What Biden wants to do more than anything else right now is to avoid a broader conflict,” Mr Alperovitch said.

“For him domestically, he does not want a war going into a November election. He does not want a war in the Middle East that can destabilise oil prices.

“He is going to do everything in his power to try to lean on Israel to say, take the win. You were not seriously hit in this attack … let’s leave it there and move on.”

What does Israel want?

Iran has signalled through official channels that it considers the matter closed but Mr Alperovitch believes it will take sustained pressure from the US and other allies to hold Israel back.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be tempted to respond to the attack.(Reuters: Ronen Zvulun/File Photo)

“The reality is that Bibi (Netanyahu) and his war cabinet, I think, are interested in responding. They feel like this was such an enormous attack, such a violation of Israeli deterrence that they need to respond,” he said.

Israel said 99 per cent of the drones and missiles launched against it were intercepted with the help of the US, Great Britain, France and Jordan. There was speculation Saudi Arabia also offered assistance.

Mr Alperovitch said the fact that almost all of the missiles and drones appear to have been intercepted over someone else’s airspace and with the participation of those allies is enormous leverage on Israel.

“Some of those allies can be telling Israel right now that if you retaliate and Iran sends more missiles, we are not going to intervene because you did not listen to us.”

And there’s one final aspect of the weekend’s attack that won’t be missed by Iran, according to Mr Alperovitch: The US and Israel have spent years cultivating cooperation amongst Arab countries on defence.

Rockets are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched the attack against Israel.(Reuters: Ronen Zvulun)

He believes the fact that Jordan, with a large Palestinian population, and possibly Saudi Arabia helped Israel, is a game-changer for the region.

“This is the first time ever where you have Arab states like Jordan fighting to defend Israel against Iranian attacks,” he said.

“The fact that Jordan has gone through this step and potentially even Saudis to defend Israel, is just absolutely remarkable.

“It’s historic and really is sending a strong message to Iran that they’re not just facing Israel, they’re not just facing the United States, but they’re facing a much more broader regional coalition.”

Watch 7.30, Mondays to Thursdays 7:30pm on ABC iview and ABC TV

Posted , updated 

  • Copy link
  • Facebook
  • X (formerly Twitter)

Related Stories

  • Israeli military approves ‘offensive and defensive action’ following Iranian aerial attack

  • The shift in Iran and Israel’s shadow war marks a dangerous moment for the world

  • Israel shoots down most of Iran’s 300 drones, saying it ‘foiled’ retaliatory attack — as it happened

More on:
  • Iran, Islamic Republic Of
  • Israel
  • War
  • World Politics