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Experts: The Israeli strike on Iran was a warning that it could strike “at any time” after an unprecedented missile attack with drones


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Israel's Thursday night strikes against Iran in response to last weekend's unprecedented missile and drone attack were not intended to immediately escalate the Middle East war — but they alerted Tehran to the capabilities of the Jewish state, experts in the region told The Washingtonian. Post.

The Israeli strike reportedly hit near a major air base in the central city of Isfahan, home to about 2 million people, as well as the underground uranium enrichment site at Natanz — which has been repeatedly targeted by suspected Israeli sabotage attacks.

Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said on Friday that the Israeli military was intending to “thread the needle” by demonstrating that it had the “capability to penetrate Iran’s air defense at any time” — while avoiding hitting a target that would lead to Exacerbate the problem. A call for another response from Tehran.

Choosing Isfahan as a target was meant to convey the following message: “If we want to destroy your nuclear program, we can.” “So don’t be tempted,” added Goldberg, a former National Security Council official specializing in Iran during the Trump administration.

He continued: “In the long term, the events of last Saturday night are a change in the region’s model.” Iran has crossed the Rubicon and will not return. The Israelis have also changed Iran's entire decision-making process based on what they did on Saturday night.

The published image made available by Iran's state television, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), shows what the television said was a live image of the city of Isfahan early on April 19, 2024. Iranian State Television (IRIB)/AFP via Getty Images

Goldberg noted that Iran's radical action to directly target Israel means that Jerusalem is likely to strike Iranian nuclear facilities in the near future.

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He added: “Saturday night will change Israel's timetable to increase its aggression, over a medium-term time frame, in weakening or potentially destroying its vital capabilities, including its nuclear capabilities.”

“When that will happen is anyone's guess.”

This AFPTV video taken on April 14, 2024, shows explosions lighting up the sky of Jerusalem during the Iranian attack on Israel. AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images

Israel has been engaged in a direct war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip since the movement launched a deadly attack on October 7, killing an estimated 1,200 people, including 33 Americans.

It has long been known that Iran supports Hamas, but Tehran had not been brazen enough to attack Israel from its territory before last weekend.

Iran's actions “have changed the interpretation of this war by Western governments,” but whether it will “change permanently or temporarily,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East expert and senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy.

In recent weeks, relations between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have become strained due to Israel's intention to launch a ground attack on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, near the border with Egypt.

Before the Israeli counterattack on Iran, the Pentagon stressed that the United States was not seeking to “escalate” the conflict in the region, refusing to endorse any retaliatory action by the Jewish state.

On Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the Israeli action.

IDF spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari (left) stands next to an Iranian ballistic missile that landed in Israel over the weekend. AFP via Getty Images

Schanzer said the Biden administration was behind the times with its appeals to avoid “escalation.”

“That broader war is inevitable and has been announced for a long time,” he said.

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Schanzer added that going forward, Israel will continue to face “multiple threats from Iranian proxies – Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis.” [in Yemen]Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria – this is what they will be fighting now [even] If Iran remains a deterrent.”

Iranian women carry banners and photos of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a celebration following the Iranian missile and drone attack on Israel. AFP via Getty Images

He continued: “It is not clear that the Israelis need a strategy that expands beyond Hamas.”

In the diplomatic context, the Iranian strike on Israel “lowered the temperature” with the United States, at a time when tensions had become “very bad,” according to Elliot Abrams, head of the Vandenberg Alliance and a senior fellow in Middle East studies at Harvard University. Council on Foreign Relations.

“This moment of great collaboration is a reminder to everyone of the importance of the relationship,” Abrams said. “If Israel takes the kind of retaliation it appears to have done — not escalation — the administration will appreciate that as well.”

However, it remains to be seen what will happen when Israel enters Rafah, which Abrams expected to happen after Passover ends at sundown on April 30.

He said: “The scale of the Iranian attack makes it clear to the Israelis that they must end the war in Gaza by destroying Hamas as a military force.”

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