Wed. May 29th, 2024

Breakin’ Down Iran’s Attack on Israel: Five Things You Gotta Know

Jamie Roberts By Jamie Roberts May16,2024

On April 1, a presumed Israeli airstrike at the Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Syria killed six people, including Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

On April 13, Iran responded with more than 300 ballistic missiles, land attack cruise missiles and drones launched against Israeli territory. Virtually all the missiles and drones were intercepted by Israel and allied missile defense systems. The few that did get through did no real damage. As of this writing, there is only one Israeli casualty — a young girl hit in her home by shrapnel from a shot-down missile.

The Iranian attack makes it critical that the House pass the aid bill for Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel which overwhelmingly passed the Senate — and not just a stand-alone appropriation for Israel.

The strategic implications of the Iranian attack must still be absorbed. Here are five early considerations:

1. The coordination of missile defense between Israel, the U.S., the U.K. and regional Arab allies was unprecedented. Jordan shot down multiple drones, the Saudis allowed aircraft overflights and Egypt played an intelligence role. This continued emergence of a Sunni anti-Iran coalition along with Israel and the West must be appropriately nurtured.

2. Israeli retaliation for the Iranian retaliation must be coordinated with the U.S. and Israel’s regional allies. It is not in Israel’s strategic interest to overly escalate. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, is not known for strategic thinking, and he has a political incentive to escalate the conflict. Recent opinion polls in Israel demonstrate that 71 percent do not want Netanyahu as prime minister and over 60 percent of Israelis believes he puts his personal interests ahead of the country’s interests.

The precedent for no Israeli action is 1991, when President Bush prevailed upon Yitzhak Shamir not to retaliate for Saddam Hussein launching 42 Scud missiles on Israel during the first Gulf War.

Israel is currently at war with Hamas in Gaza and in escalating clashes with Hezbollah in the north; there are clashes in the West Bank between Palestinians and Israeli settlers, and between the Israeli army and Palestinians. The world is also dealing with Houthi attacks against shipping in the Red Sea. Adding a new front is neither desirable nor tenable.

3. Iran knew that most of the missiles would not get through. Over the next few days, the U.S. and allied militaries will determine how many Iranian missiles actually targeted civilian locations, how many targeted military installations and how many were sent for show.

The Iranian declaration about its attack is remarkable: “Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus. The matter can be deemed concluded.” And it should be. There will be other actions and provocations by Iran in the future, which must be met in conjunction with a coordinated regional effort.

4. Most Iranian proxies, including Hezbollah, were reasonably quiet during the multi-hour Iranian missile salvo — another sign that the Iranians were not seeking to over escalate.

Hezbollah possesses well over 150,000 missiles that can hit any target in Israel as well as massive stockpiles of lesser-range munitions. Hezbollah could fire 400 missiles against major Israeli cities and infrastructure every day for a year without resupply — a third more than the number of missiles fired by Iran on April 13. Hezbollah would fire from tens of miles away rather than thousands of miles away, so the allied missile defense systems would not be as effective.

The combined cost of shooting down all the Iranian projectiles on April 13 will likely be in excess of $500 million and depleted stockpiles.

5. The shooting down of 99 percent of Iranian missiles and drones will create a learning curve for Iran (and the West).

Israel used unmanned aerial vehicles extraordinarily effectively in battles with Syria during the early days of 1982 Lebanon War. Syria, which controlled parts of Lebanon, had generous supplies of new versions of Soviet surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, which had been used effectively against the Israeli Air Force. Israel used UAVs to draw out surface-to-air missile attacks and to identify Syrian electronic frequencies. When the aerial war began, the UAVs were able to emit false signals. Syrian SAMs were often launched futilely against Israeli UAVs, and Israel destroyed 29 of 30 Syrian SAM batteries. Israel was then free to attack Syrian aircraft and land targets with relative impunity.

No doubt, the U.S., Israel and Iran will all learn from the 300 projectiles that were downed in this attack, making the next wave of attacks more lethal.

Iran is a danger that needs to be confronted — but on Israel’s own time and schedule. Ill-considered retaliation by Israel for political purposes will not solidify the anti-Iran coalition.

Jonathan D. Strum is an international lawyer and businessman based in Washington D.C. and the Middle East. From 1991 to 2005, he was an adjunct professor of International Law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Jamie Roberts

By Jamie Roberts

Jamie is an award-winning investigative journalist with a focus on uncovering corruption and advocating for social justice. With over a decade of experience in the field, Jamie's work has been instrumental in bringing about positive change in various communities.

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2 thoughts on “Breakin’ Down Iran’s Attack on Israel: Five Things You Gotta Know”
  1. It is concerning that the Iranian attack has escalated tensions in the region. The cooperation among Israel, the U.S., and regional allies in missile defense is commendable. It is crucial for Israel to avoid an excessive retaliation to prevent further escalation.

  2. The Iranian attack highlights the importance of international cooperation in missile defense systems. It is crucial for Israel to work closely with the U.S. and its regional allies to prevent further escalation. Let’s hope for a peaceful resolution to this conflict.

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