“Iran’s attack on Israel is a ‘game changer’” – L’Express

Irans attack on Israel is a ‘game changer – LExpress

Will Israel retaliate against the attack on Tehran? The question is on everyone’s mind. Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles against Israel overnight from Saturday to Sunday, in response to a strike against its consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1. The Iranian operation, direct and unprecedented, was “foiled”, the Israeli army said this Sunday, April 14.

Alongside the Iranian attack, Tehran’s allies, including Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemeni Houthi rebels, carried out attacks against Israel, the former firing two salvos of rockets in a matter of hours at the Israeli-occupied Golan, and the latter in launching drones towards Israeli territory. “The case can be considered closed,” said the Iranian mission to the UN, in a message posted three hours after the start of its operation.

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However, “case closed” might not be seen in the same way on the Israeli side. Because if Tel Aviv and its allies managed to contain, according to the Israeli army, 99% of the strikes, “the sanctuary of Israel was violated”, explains to L’Express David Rigoulet-Roze, researcher associated with the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris) and editor-in-chief of the journal Orients Stratégiques at (L’Harmattan). Interview.

L’Express: What lessons do you draw from this attack by Iran against Israel?

David Rigoulet-Roze : First of all, it must be remembered that this is an unprecedented attack. Iran as such has never struck Israel directly on its soil. However, this attack was expected and announced after the death of the two senior officers of the Al Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards in a strike attributed to Israel on the consular annex of the Iranian embassy in Damascus (Syria), on April 1 last. Even yesterday, doubt could remain about the direct or indirect form of Tehran’s response. Ultimately, the choice was made to strike Israel directly on its soil. It is also a way for Tehran to respond to the expectations of the proxies, through which strikes against Israel usually pass, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian groups in Syria and Iraq or the Houthis in Yemen.

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In terms of political-military display, this is undoubtedly a very strong decision. This attack is a game changer. It is likely to constitute a tipping point due to the fact that it involves crossing a threshold. This completely changes the situation. We are no longer in the “classic” configuration where there were strikes followed by responses through Tehran’s proxies – or vice versa. We have changed register, with unsuspected consequences.

Why did Tehran prevent its attack, which gave the Jewish state time to prepare?

Not only did Israel have time to prepare, but this operation could have been on a larger scale. Iranian military officials, notably Mohammad Hussein Bagheri, the head of the Iranian armed forces, have also explicitly said that the targets considered were not urban or economic centers, implying that this could be the case. It’s a way of showing, in terms of display, that the response was strong but not disproportionate.

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But the problem lies elsewhere: a threshold has been crossed. This is the first time that Tehran has targeted Israel from its territory. The protagonists emerged from the “shadow war” that had prevailed until then. Iran has emerged from the ambiguity which was based on the Anglo-Saxon adage of “plausible deniability”. This opens up unsuspected perspectives, particularly in terms of potential “escalatory” logic.

In a message posted three hours after the start of its operation, the Iranian mission to the UN announced that “the case can be considered closed”. Should we expect, despite everything, an escalation?

The matter is perhaps closed for the Iranians, but certainly not for Israel, which will hardly be able to avoid a response. And that’s the big question mark. We are already in an escalatory logic, difficult to contain. A few days ago, Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned Iran. In a tweet in Hebrew and Persian, he said: “If Iran attacks from its territory, Israel will react and attack in Iran.” If Israel decides to respond, which is likely, this is likely according to Tehran to lead to an “even more severe” counter-reply from Iran in the words of the Iranian diplomatic mission to the UN.

Is a response from Israel to be feared?

It’s plausible, if not probable. Israel will not be able to agree to stop there, especially after the October 7 massacre, which, from its point of view, constituted a “game changer”. The question today is how Israel will respond and what that will entail.

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There is a form of systemic logic in which, even if the main actors do not deliberately wish to enter into a dynamic of direct confrontation, certain parameters which underlie this systematic logic partially escape these same actors. If there were to be a response from Israel, an Iranian “counter-reply” would logically be even more important than during this first salvo. Ultimatelythe Americans who above all do not want to enter into direct conflict with Iran, would potentially be led to become even more involved, or even find themselves forced to intervene more and more directly, possibly against Iran.

Would Israel, already engaged in Gaza, have the strength to confront Iran in a conflict? And vice versa?

Concretely, Tehran’s “conventional” military means are quite limited. Iran’s real strategic “added value” is “ballistics” (drones, cruise missiles and long-range missiles). And this is also what is at the origin of the proliferation of its proxies in the region such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, which reportedly has some 150 missiles including precision missiles transferred by Tehran via Syria, or the Houthis in Yemen which compensate for the lack of conventional weapons.

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From the Israeli point of view, it has been several months, if not more, since the IDF integrated the idea of ​​a “multi-front war” regularly mentioned by the Minister of Defense, Yaov Gallant, and in which the military operation Gaza might just be a sequence. And this, even if the cost is enormous in military, political and economic terms.

Since October 7, Israel rightly or wrongly considers that “the rules have changed.” We must keep in mind the formula of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dated October 9, 2023, two days after the massacre of October 7: “This will take time and it is necessary to adopt a firm position in the days difficult to come. We are going to change the Middle East.” A configuration which is not without concern even its main support, in this case the United States which, through the voice of the American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, declared on January 29, 2024 during a press conference jointly with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “I would say that we have not experienced a situation as dangerous as the one we are currently facing in the region since at least 1973. And probably even before that. “