How Will Israel Retaliate Against Iran?

By Michael Brown Published on April 15, 2024

As expected, in retaliation for Israel’s killing of a top Iranian general and seven other senior military leaders on April 1 (all of whom were suspected of having Israeli blood on their hands), Iran struck back on Saturday night, launching roughly 350 drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles on Israel.

This marked the first time that the Islamic Republic of Iran has directly attacked Israel after years of murderous attacks by their proxies, in particular Hezbollah and Hamas.

What will Israel do in response? And what does this mean for the region and the world?

Attack Added Trauma Upon Trauma

Remarkably, Israel, with the help of America and other allies (including Britain, France, and even some Arab nations, like Jordan), was able to intercept 99 percent of the drones and missiles, rendering the Iranian attack virtually harmless, even though Hezbollah joined in it, along with the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

So, despite the trauma of a mass assault from Iran at a time when Israel remains in the thick of the war with Hamas in Gaza, now more than six months old, and with 130 Israelis still held hostage, Israel emerged unscathed physically.

But the attack itself added trauma upon trauma, with schools closed for two days, flights canceled, and Israelis across the nation urged to go to their shelters the moment they heard sirens. (Every home in Israel must have a “safe room,” while every apartment building must have a bomb shelter. This is how all Israelis live. Many also have an app on their phone that tells them when a rocket has been launched. It often goes off, even on “normal” days.)

When I checked in with one of my close friends in Israel during the night, he emailed back, “Yes, all safe, it was crazy, well over 100 missiles in about five minutes. My [app] was exploding and I could see it in the skies, but it was far enough away that our sirens did not go off. Now it is 3:20 AM and I can’t fall asleep… Prayers appreciated. :-)”

Attack Amid Pressure From U.S. Over Gaza

The attack had been expected ever since Israel’s surprise airstrike on the Iranian consulate annex building in Damascus, Syria on April 1, which killed Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and seven other Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers.

It also came at a difficult time for Israel, as the IDF had to temporarily halt its offensive in Gaza under heavy pressure from President Joe Biden, paralyzing its efforts to neutralize Hamas. As for Biden’s warning to Iran — “Don’t” — the Iranian leadership paid no heed. At the same time, the Biden administration has reportedly told Israel it will not join a direct counterstrike on Iran.

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What, then, is coming next?

It’s unclear if Iran launched this attack simply to save face, knowing it would not succeed but needing to do something major in response to the killing of Zahedi. As it is, despite the operation’s abject failure, Iran is claiming success.

If that was the case and Iran knew the operation would have limited impact, Israel’s response might be more restrained, even though it must do something because of the unprecedented nature of this attack from Iranian soil.

”Whoever Harms Us, We Will Harm Them”

On the other hand, if Iran was legitimately seeking to inflict many casualties, Israel’s response would be more severe. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so level-headedly and with determination.”

Many have long believed that, should Israel find itself in an existential battle with Iran with the survival of the Jewish state on the line, it would resort to nuclear war. We will destroy you before you destroy us.

And while the apocalyptically minded mullahs of Iran might even welcome such an “end of days” scenario, believing it would lead to the revelation of their expected, messianic leader, the “Mahdi” or the “Twelfth Imam,” Israel certainly has no desire to force such a costly war.

Pragmatically, with the Islamic leadership in Iran on tenuous ground due to social and economic upheaval, it would not want to risk an escalation either.

What, then, will Israel do?

Israel Will Make a Statement … Even If a Restrained One

My educated guess — and nothing more than that — is that we could see a twofold approach.

First, Israel will do something stinging and immediate, but more symbolic in nature, simply to say, “You crossed a line, and you will not get away with it.”

Second, in keeping with war cabinet member Benny Gantz’s promise on Sunday the nation “will ‘exact the price’ for Iran’s overnight missile attack when the time is right,” Israel could wait for the opportune moment to do something major, such as taking out one of Iran’s nuclear plants, as it did spectacularly in Iraq in 1981. Or perhaps there will be another major assassination of a top Iranian leader with blood on his hands.

More conservatively, Israel could work with America to further isolate Iran, potentially forcing a regime change, as could have happened during the presidency of Barack Obama had he the will or desire to support the Iranian grassroots revolution.

My thinking, though, is that Israel wants to make its own statement — and while it will use restraint, especially in light of its successful defensive measures Saturday night, it will make Iran pay.

This is a great time to pray the Lord’s prayer for Israel and the Middle East: “Heavenly Father, may Your name be hallowed in the region! May Your will be done and may Your Kingdom come! And we also pray for the peace of Jerusalem! We really need Your help, Lord.”

 

Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. He is the author of more than 40 books, including Can You be Gay and Christian?Our Hands Are Stained With Blood; and Seize the Moment: How to Fuel the Fires of Revival. You can connect with him on FacebookX, or YouTube.

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