- Iran launched a missile strike on northern Israel late Wednesday night, with 20 Grad and Fajr rockets taking off from Syria in what was widely seen as retaliation after months of Israeli airstrikes punishing their forces.
- Israel’s response reportedly crushed Iranian forces in Syria.
- After the attack, not even Iran’s allies came to its defence, with even Bahrain condemning Iran’s attack, though Iran was badly punished for it.
- Now, Iran’s only recourse may be to silently take the beating or unleash Hezbollah for all-out war on Israel.
Iran launched a missile strike on northern Israel late Wednesday night, with 20 Grad and Fajr rockets taking off from Syria in what was widely seen as retaliation after months of Israeli airstrikes punishing their forces – but it looks like it got crushed.
Not only does Israel say it intercepted a number of the Iranian missiles, it says the other missiles failed to reach their target and sputtered out while still in Syria.
The response from Israel included many more missiles, and, according to Israel, did serious damage that will take a long time to rebuild.
How we got here
For years, Iran’s clerical regime has chanted “Death to Israel” and supported Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas on Israel’s borders in Gaza and the West Bank, which the US designates as terror organisations.
Since Iran became involved in Syria’s civil war, Israel assesses it has attempted to move in forces and military assets to the Jewish state’s borders in an attempt to arm its allies and attack Israel within its borders. Israel rarely admits to specific strikes, but owns that it has struck Iranians in Syria more than 100 times since 2012.
In February, Israel reported that an armed Iranian drone flew into its airspace, which it shot down. Israel then launched massive air raids on Iranian-linked targets in Syria, and claimed to have wiped out half of Syria’s air defences in the process.
Scattered strikes in April escalated tensions by targeting not just Iranian proxies but actual uniformed Iranian soldiers, and some high-up ones at that. Israel started warning of prospective Iranian retaliation around this point.
Israel released maps and even a simulated video of the strikes it carried out on Iranian targets in Syria. Russia claimed Syrian defences downed more than half of the Israeli missiles, but they have consistently made dubious, unverified claims about Syrian missile defences in the past.
Here are the Israeli media posts:
Overnight, IDF fighter jets struck dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds forces in Syrian territory pic.twitter.com/LwBJTMkxYR
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 10, 2018
Iran’s long-awaited retaliation finally came. Former Israeli deputy defence minister Ephraim Sneh told Business Insider that Israel targeted “the intelligence and the infrastructure” of Iran’s forces in Syria, doing “heavy damage” which “will take time to repair.” Israel’s current defence minister said it took out most of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria.
In the end, the US, UK, and France all condemned Iran for its missile attack on Israel without mentioning Israeli incursions into Syria to strike Iranians. France went as far as saying that Iran’s actions toward Israel merit revisiting and expanding the Iran nuclear deal to rein in Tehran’s regional activity.
Bahrain, a Gulf Arab country that rarely speaks to Israel, even condemned Iran’s attack and asserted Israel’s right to defend itself. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies told Business Insider that while they might not say it, other Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, probably support Israel pushing back Iran’s influence.
Russia urged mutual calm after the massive air war in which its ally, Iran, suffered badly.
What was missing was a total lack of international outrage. Israel carried out the strike with impunity after entering Syrian airspace uninvited. It lost no soldiers or civilians. Iran has been badly beaten by its great enemy and condemned on the world stage days after the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.
Now, Iran’s only recourse may be to silently take the beating or unleash Hezbollah for all-out war on Israel.
But Israel may be ready for that as well, as Israeli reporter Barak Ravid quoted Israel’s defence minister as saying, “If it rains in Israel, it will pour in Iran.”
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