Awaiting Zero Hour

Parisa Pasandepour
11 Min Read
Awaiting Zero Hour

Awaiting zero hour

Iran and Israel, a variable named Netanyahu

Awaiting zero hour after Iran’s attack, Israel’s allies urge the Jewish state to remain calm and prioritize de-escalation. However, everything depends on an unpredictable variable, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran’s attack on Israel on Saturday night garnered support for Tel Aviv from world leaders, but they immediately called on Israel to exercise restraint. Iran’s unusual reaction, reflecting an exceptional operation, has analysts still debating.

Iran’s choice to directly launch missiles and drones from its own soil to Tel Aviv, without relying on closer countries like Syria, made it easier to track and defeat many of Iran’s threats. It appears that while the attack on Tehran was inevitable, Iran still seeks to avoid a full-scale confrontation with Israel once again.

Was Tehran’s retaliation against the attack on its consulate in Syria on April 1st a symbolic gesture to avoid provoking Israel? Will Israel show any other reaction after demonstrating its power by tracking down and destroying almost all missiles and drones? Can the crisis be considered over or is an escalation of tensions inevitable?

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all parties in the emergency Security Council meeting to step back from the brink of war, warning that neither the region nor the world can afford another conflict. A similar call was made by the leaders of the G7 condemning Iran’s attack but also stating the need to avoid further escalation.

Although Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet in Tel Aviv declared that Israel’s response to Iran’s attack would be on Israel’s terms and timing, Washington emphasized its unconditional support for the Jewish state. However, the United States made it clear that it will not participate in any retaliatory strike against Tehran, making it evident that the US does not intend to get involved in another war, which it had not sought from the beginning.

It remains to be seen whether Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu will receive this message or not. If Tel Aviv triggers a conflict between the two main military powers in the region, staying away from it will not be so simple for the United States.

Is Israel isolated?

Can Tel Aviv present its response to Iran’s attack as a victory, the first victory for Israel since the beginning of the current war, or not? It is clear that if the attack had not been carried out with technologies that had been tracked in advance by satellites of allies and Israel, the situation would have progressed differently. According to the army spokesperson, this attack only caused minor damage to the infrastructure of the Natafim airbase in the south and resulted in a little girl being wounded by missile shrapnel.

In addition, the widespread reaction in Tehran following Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria gave Tel Aviv the opportunity to strengthen its air defense units, mobilize its reserve forces, and declare the highest level of readiness. The Israeli army acknowledged that although the Arrow, Iron Dome, and David’s Sling systems intercepted more Iranian drones and missiles, defense had a better and more effective outcome thanks to our strategic partners. The main partners are the United States, Britain, and France, but not limited to only these three countries.

According to Reuters, during the night of the air strike, Israeli fighter jets shot down dozens of Iranian drones flying towards Israel, and countries in the Persian Gulf region, from the United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia, indirectly played a role as they host Western air defense systems, surveillance aircraft, and refueling.

Jordanian authorities, a country where one in every five residents is of Palestinian origin, felt compelled to justify the interception and shooting down of drones, claiming that only unauthorized aircraft were intercepted as they posed a threat to our people and densely populated areas.

Netanyahu at a crossroads

Although Iran showed a reaction to Israel’s attack on its consulate to preserve its international reputation, as its ambassador pointed out in the United Nations, it was done in a proportionate manner. Now, it depends on the Israeli government to decide between escalating tensions or victory, as suggested by US President Joe Biden.

Facing two options, Netanyahu needs time. On one hand, he is under pressure from his right-wing religious fundamentalist allies who advocate for a destructive response against Tehran. On the other hand, he does not want to reduce the satisfying tone that Israeli newspapers praise for the significant display of military defensive capability and emphasize the contrast of this operation with the air defense system collapse on October 7, indicating that the tables have turned and the situation has changed.

It is no secret that an official Iranian government account had tweeted before the first drone entered Israeli airspace, stating that Tehran considers the issue resolved, but Israel’s response could turn a clear victory into a new gamble with an unpredictable outcome, potentially triggering a large-scale military conflict. Besides all the consequences, such action would provoke the anger of the US government, once again confirming its crucial role in ensuring Israel’s security.

An unpredictable variable.

However, even considering the possible repercussions of Israel’s response to an Iranian attack, there is no guarantee that the Israeli government would not entertain this assumption. One source told journalist Ronen Bergman that if the government’s negotiations were broadcast live on YouTube, 4 million people at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv would be screaming and trying to leave. For this reason, once again, all attention is focused on the Israeli Prime Minister. After six months of war and the deaths of nearly 34,000 Palestinians, none of the goals in Gaza have been achieved.

More than 100 hostages, many of whom are now dead, remain in Gaza. Many Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinwar, are still alive, and the Israeli army continues to repel retaliatory attacks from areas that have been under their control for months.

With these circumstances, the most experienced leader of the Israeli government, who even in the face of refusing to accept responsibility for the failure in responding to Hamas’ attack on October 7, politically remains unscathed. Despite all these issues, with increasing calls for early elections, polls show that in recent weeks, the popularity of Netanyahu and support for his Likud party have increased and improved.

Netanyahu has been using anti-Iranian rhetoric for years to his advantage without turning his words into actions. Today, the region and the world should hope that he does not use this situation as another political opportunity.

The current situation is almost like a ritual or, in other words, a Middle Eastern power play. Israel attacks Iran’s consulate in Damascus to eliminate some prominent IRGC commanders without considering the consequences. Iran’s response to wash off the stain of Israel’s attack on its consulate with a barrage of drones and missiles that are not intended to hit any target shows.

The intention is to restore dignity to everyone. You can return to a low-intensity confrontation through Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Hamas. Everyone has returned to the predetermined order, but this order has been the result of the dramatic last hours in the Middle Eastern sky. However, nothing is resolved at present, and everything can lead to another general crisis and a real Middle Eastern war tomorrow, in a week, or in a month.


مشاهده این مقاله به زبان فارسی

Share This Article
Master's Degree in International Relations from the Faculty of Diplomatic Sciences and International Relations, Genoa, Italy.