Options and Risks: How and When Will 'Israel' Respond to Iran's Attack?

“Iran’s president warned that even the tiniest invasion of its territory would bring a massive and harsh response.”

“Iran’s president warned that even the tiniest invasion of its territory would bring a massive and harsh response.”

Murad Jandali | a month ago

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"Israel" recently vowed to respond to the unprecedented attack launched by Iran last week, despite calls to avoid escalation in the Middle East in light of the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "Israel" would decide whether and how to respond to Iran's major air assault earlier this week, brushing off calls for restraint from many global powers and regional actors.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters, "We cannot stand idly by in the face of this aggression. Iran will not escape punishment."

On April 14, Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones toward "Israel," under the name Operation True Promise, which came in response to an Israeli missile attack that targeted the Iranian embassy in Syria at the beginning of this April, resulting in the killing of two senior Iranian military commanders.

On his part, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned that even the tiniest invasion of its territory would bring a massive and harsh response.

Israeli Revenge

The United States and its European allies have stepped up their efforts to dissuade "Israel" from retaliating for the Iranian attack, amid fears that this could lead to a regional war.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made contact with his counterparts in Europe and the Middle East to prevent escalation of the conflict, following Tel Aviv's threat to respond to the unprecedented attack and Tehran's pledge to respond stronger to any retaliatory strike.

In turn, Netanyahu called on the international community to remain united in the face of what he called Iranian aggression that threatens world peace, while his government is examining how to respond to Tehran's attack without harming global allies and wasting the opportunity to build an international strategic alliance against Iran.

An official familiar with the discussions told the Washington Post that Netanyahu asked the army to present possible targeting options for an Israeli attack on Iran, indicating that "Tel Aviv" is considering options that would send a message without causing human casualties.

Possible options include striking a facility in the Iranian capital, Tehran, or a cyberattack, according to the official, who said everyone agrees that "Israel" must respond.

The Times of Israel reported that the Israeli War Council discussed several options to respond to the Iranian attack, describing those options as painful, but they do not lead to igniting a regional war.

Israeli Channel 12 said that there are three scenarios for the expected Israeli response to Iran's attack, varying in severity and in the weapons used.

It indicated that the Israeli response would be within Iranian territory and would include either a cyberattack only, a limited missile attack on a small military base, or a broad missile attack on several strategic military complexes.

In this context, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, expressed his concern about the possibility of "Israel" targeting Iranian nuclear facilities.

International Efforts

The Israeli Broadcasting Corporation said that Britain and Germany do not oppose an Israeli attack on Iran, but they want the situation not to worsen.

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with both Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Israel Katz as part of a visit whose program was not revealed by London or Berlin.

Following the meeting, Cameron said it was clear that "Israel" had made a decision to act after the Iranian attack.

He added that his country wants to see coordinated sanctions against Iran, noting that the G7 must send a clear and unambiguous message to Iran, expressing his hope that "Israel" will act in a way that does not lead to escalation of the matter as much as possible.

The international moves come amid American expectations that a possible Israeli response to the Iranian attack will include carrying out strikes against Iranian forces and their proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, NBC News reported.

American officials confirmed that they had not been informed of the Israeli final decision on how to respond and said that options may have changed since the attack that occurred over the weekend.

It is not yet clear when the Israeli response will take place, but it may happen at any time, according to American officials.

On the other hand, Washington said that it would not join any attack on Iran and called for a halt to the escalation, as did a number of other Western leaders.

U.S. President Joe Biden had stated that his country would not join any attack on Iran, calling for a halt to the escalation, as did a number of other Western leaders.

Instead, the Biden administration pledged to impose further sanctions targeting Iran's missile and drone program, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and the Iranian Ministry of Defense.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the new measures will continue the ongoing pressure to contain and weaken Iran's military capacity and effectiveness and confront all of its problematic behaviors.

In turn, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that Western countries are preparing to impose sanctions on Tehran amid efforts to prevent the situation from escalating into an all-out war in the Middle East, according to the Financial Times.

"U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is preparing to impose new sanctions on Iran," Axios reported.

"Imposing economic sanctions on Iran represents a hidden message to Israel that there is more than one way to harm the Iranian regime," it noted.

On his part, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell confirmed that Brussels is also working to expand sanctions against Iran, including its supplies of drones and other weapons to Russia and the factions that orbit it in the region.

Emergency Measures

The Wall Street Journal reported that the IRGC forces in Syria are taking emergency measures in anticipation of an Israeli attack, noting that some members have evacuated their bases in Syria, and only a small number of forces remain to defend weapons arsenals.

One source told the newspaper that low-ranking soldiers hide in vehicles or shops in Deir ez-Zor and Damascus, while senior officers rent apartments in residential buildings to avoid detection.

In this context, military analysts said that the recent Iranian attack has now increased the risk of Israeli retaliation and further cycles of violence between the two countries.

In a sign that it is trying to limit this danger, "Israel" assured countries in the region that its response would not jeopardize its security and is likely to be limited in scope, regional Arab officials said.

They added that "Israel" would likely warn its Arab allies before responding and could limit its attacks to Iran-linked facilities in Syria.

However, there are three main factors "Israel" must weigh up before it responds, according to Raz Zimmt, a research fellow at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies who focuses on Iran.

"One, how Iran will respond, since they have made it very clear that Israeli retaliation will be met with an even harsher reaction," he said. 

"Secondly, the U.S. position. Biden is not interested in escalation and wants to close this round of fighting. And third, ever since October 7, Israel has been trying to avoid opening new fronts so it can focus on fighting Hamas in Gaza," Zimmt added.

On his part, political analyst Ismail Maslamani said in a statement to Al-Estiklal that "Israel is not interested in escalation, but rather seeks to exploit the Iranian attack on it and invest it at the international and regional levels."

He ruled out that "Israel would respond with any strikes on Iranian territory, given that Tehran's recent attack did not cause any losses."

But at the same time, Mr. Maslamani pointed out that "Israeli arrogance cannot allow this showy attack to pass without retaliation, especially after Iran broke a new barrier by directing strikes against Israel."

Therefore, "Israel" will make a painful response inside Iran, but this may happen after a period of time, and the Israeli government may not comment on it, according to him.