May 30, 2024

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Israel considers response to Iran: Live Middle East updates

Israel considers response to Iran: Live Middle East updates

Moments after Israel and its allies shot down a barrage of Iranian missiles and drones this weekend, many began wondering what the latest exchange between Israel and Iran will mean for the war in the Gaza Strip.

The Iranian attack came in response to what is widely believed to be an Israeli attack this month on an embassy building in Damascus that killed seven Iranian officials, including three senior commanders in the Iranian armed forces. But this happened against the backdrop of the war in Gaza, where Israel is fighting Hamas, an armed group funded and armed by Iran.

Israeli military analysts were divided over whether a direct confrontation with Iran would change the war in Gaza, which has now entered its sixth month. The next fulcrum in that war could depend on whether Israel decides to pursue Hamas in the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have fled amid a escalating humanitarian crisis.

Some analysts believe that the repercussions on Gaza will depend on whether Israel responds with a major counterattack against Iran. Others stressed that the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip would not be affected.

Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general and former director of the Israeli army's strategic planning department, said that if Israel responded with great force to the Iranian attack, it could lead to a multi-front war that would force the Israeli leadership to shift its attention away from the Iranian attack. Gaza.

General Broome said that in the event of a major regional conflagration, Israel may choose to postpone its plans to invade Rafah, which Israeli officials describe as Hamas's last stronghold.

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General Broome added: “It is not comfortable for us to fight simultaneous, high-intensity wars in multiple theaters.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to send ground forces to Rafah, despite international pressure to back down from the operation. An Israeli official, who spoke on Sunday on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the Iranian attack would have no impact on the army’s plan to invade Rafah.

General Broome said that a direct, large-scale confrontation with Iran could put an end to the war in Gaza. But for the war to end in this way, it would require a broader ceasefire that includes several parties, including Israel, Iran, and Iranian-backed armed groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

“There is an idea that in order to resolve the crisis, the situation must first become worse,” he said, explaining that escalation followed by a comprehensive ceasefire with Iran may push that country to push its regional proxies to stop fighting with Iran. Israel.

While members of Israel's war cabinet did not issue a formal statement after their meeting on Sunday, a separate Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the talks, indicated that the country would respond to the Iranian attack — although there were significant movements. Uncertainty about when and how.

But other military experts denied the link between the Iranian attack and the war in Gaza.

“There is no connection at all,” said Amos Gilad, a retired major general who served in Israeli military intelligence.

General Gilad said that the Israeli army has sufficient resources to fight against Iran and continue waging war against Hamas in Gaza.

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Other analysts made a similar point, saying that the resources needed to fight Iran differ from those needed in Gaza. They added that Israel needs fighter planes and air defense systems to confront Iran. In contrast, they added, the army mainly needs ground forces, drones and attack helicopters to fight Hamas in Gaza.

“There is no real tension between these two things,” said Giora Eiland, a retired major general and former head of Israel's National Security Council.

However, General Eiland said the success of the coalition that repelled the Iranian attack, which included the United States, Britain and Jordan, could inspire Israel to build on the momentum to overcome its declining international standing by ending the war in Gaza.

Although the United States, Israel's closest ally, has broadly supported Israel's decision to go to war in Gaza, it has increasingly expressed dismay at the high death toll and warned against launching a major ground offensive in Rafah. The support provided by the United States to Israel on Sunday in shooting down Iranian drones and missiles may give it more leverage over its Israeli counterparts.

While General Eiland said such an outcome could help Israel develop goodwill in the international community and contribute to a solution to end the war in Gaza and skirmishes with Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia in Lebanon, he was skeptical that Netanyahu would do so. . Wallet like this way.

He added: “He says he wants to achieve complete victory in Gaza and occupy Rafah, a process that could last two or three months,” referring to the Prime Minister. “It is clear that Netanyahu has a different mentality and priorities.”

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Aaron Puckerman Contributed to reports.