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Iran-Israel Standoff: Intensifying or Easing?

Assessing the impact of recent cross-border attacks
iran israel standoff  intensifying or easing

Iran's news agency reported early Friday of explosions near an army base in Isfahan, one of the strong military bases of Iran, prompting the activation of Iran’s local air defence systems and subsequent temporary suspension of flights across various Iranian cities. The incident sparked concerns among global powers, as any Israeli retaliation could escalate into a regional conflict.


However, Iranian officials downplayed it, including spokesperson Hossein Dalirian from the National Centre of Cyberspace, who denied any missile attacks on Isfahan or other parts of the country. Dalirian stated that Israel's purported involvement was limited to a failed attempt to deploy quadcopters, which were subsequently shot down. There were no reports of direct impact or explosions, and all facilities, including nuclear sites, were declared safe.


Throughout the week, speculation has been rife concerning Israel's expected response following the unprecedented direct Iranian drone and missile attack over the last weekend, intensifying the lasting shadow conflict between these adversaries.


Israel pledged to retaliate against Iran's "swarm" attack of drones and missiles, and it seems to have followed through. Yet, if this response represents Israel's retaliation, it appears notably restrained in both size and extent. Political observers would find relief if this concludes the cycle of retaliation, potentially halting future threats and conflict escalation.


As tensions increase in West Asia, the future trajectory of this conflict hinges on two critical factors: whether Israel's recent attack concludes its response, and whether Iran chooses to retaliate further.


After Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israel, marking a critical turning point in the region's dynamics. The attack, which involved hundreds of suicide drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles, was supposedly in retaliation for an Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus earlier in April.


This confrontation between Iran and Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, has raised fears of a broader regional conflict with potential global ramifications.


Iran's decision to retaliate directly against Israel from its own soil in decades caught many experts by surprise, as Iran typically relies on proxy forces to carry out attacks against Israel.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Iran's Foreign Minister emphasized that friendly countries were given a 72-hour warning before the attack, and military targets, rather than civilian ones, were chosen. This cautious approach suggests Iran's intention to retaliate while avoiding a full-scale war.

From Iran's perspective, the attack was a measured response to Israeli aggression and a necessary act of self-defence. Iranian officials have underscored their commitment to defending their sovereignty and interests, while also signalling a willingness to de-escalate tensions if Israel refrains from further aggression.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, praising the professionalism of his army, issued a stark warning, cautioning Israel against any act of aggression on Iranian soil. Speaking at the Islamic Republic of Iran Army parade on National Army Day, President Raisi asserted that any such aggression would be met with a powerful and decisive response. He referred to Iran's retaliatory operation against Israel, dubbed "Operation True Promise," as a limited yet punitive measure.

The direct Israel-Iran military escalation involved at least nine countries, with projectiles launched from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and countered by Israel, the US, the UK, and Jordan and supported by France. Despite efforts to intercept incoming missiles, some managed to breach Israeli defences, hitting military targets such as the Nevatim Air Force base leading to the potential for further escalation.

The effectiveness of Israel's defence systems, including the Arrow, David's Sling, and Iron Dome, prevented significant damage and casualties. The US also provided support, deploying aircraft and warships to the region, and intercepting numerous incoming threats.

US President Joe Biden announced that US forces had played a crucial role in intercepting the barrage of drones and missiles launched by Iran. Before the attack, the US had deployed aircraft and warships to the region as part of its strategic positioning. Two aircraft and two destroyers were actively involved in intercepting the incoming threats, utilizing the Aegis missile defence system to shoot down at least three ballistic missiles, as reported by CNN. US Central Command (Centcom) further stated that American forces had successfully neutralized over 80 drones and at least six ballistic missiles.

Additionally, the interception efforts extended beyond Israel's borders, with the destruction of a ballistic missile on its launcher vehicle and seven drones in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen before they could be launched.

The United Kingdom also contributed to the interception efforts, with RAF Typhoon jets shooting down several Iranian attack drones, as confirmed by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Jordan, despite its peace treaty with Israel, took proactive measures to intercept flying objects entering its airspace to safeguard its citizens' safety, according to a statement from the Jordanian cabinet. Highlighting Jordan's advanced radar systems and air-to-air missiles, Mr. Eiland emphasized the effectiveness of Jordan's F-16 pilots, particularly in nocturnal operations. France also played a role in patrolling airspace during the crisis.

Israel Response

Following Iran's direct attack on Israel, the nation's war cabinet, comprising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, and former Defence Minister Benny Gantz, has spent the past week deliberating on an appropriate response. While it is anticipated that Friday's explosions near an army base in Isfahan were a calculated act of Israel to show their superiority in breaching the defence line of Iran, more or less an act to demonstrate to Iran that such aggression will not go unanswered, but Tehran's warning of even greater retaliation if Israel strikes back worries the global leaders.

Several factors weigh on Israel's decision-making process. Firstly, the anticipated response from Iran has threatened harsher retaliation to any Israeli action. Secondly, the United States' stance on escalation, as they aim to conclude the ongoing conflict without further intensification. Israel's capability to handle a war with Iran is also under scrutiny, especially considering their existing engagement in Gaza and the weariness of their soldiers engaged for the last six months in Gaza when the US said they would not get involved in an offensive act.

Analysts and military experts acknowledge the significant challenges the Israel confrontation would pose. The involvement of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, and other non-state actors backed by Iran, presents a formidable threat. A regional war would demand substantial resources and could strain Israel's sophisticated defence systems, potentially overwhelming their capabilities.

The impact of a wider conflict on both Iran and Israel's infrastructure, economy, and society cannot be understated. In Israel, a large portion of the military is composed of reservists and daily life would be severely disrupted. Major infrastructure, including power stations and transportation networks, would be affected, exerting immense pressure on the country's strong economy. The outcome of this critical juncture could shape the future dynamics of the region and have far-reaching implications for international security.

Amid calls for restraint and concern from global leaders and organizations, including the UN Security Council and the G7, several individual countries the situation remains precarious.

US President Biden has urged Israel to refrain from retaliating further, advising them to "take the win." Britain and other allies of Israel have echoed similar sentiments, calling for restraint.

The risk of further escalation, particularly considering Iran's threats of harsher retaliation, complicates Israel's decision-making process. Options range from direct military action to covert operations, each carrying its own set of risks and potential consequences.

Beyond the immediate conflict, the involvement of regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE highlights the broader implications of the Iran-Israel confrontation. These countries, along with others in the region, are keen to prevent further escalation and maintain stability.

The prospect of a wider conflict involving Iran and Israel raises concerns globally. The impact on energy markets, regional stability, and geopolitical alliances could be significant. Moreover, the potential for US involvement, amid other international commitments and domestic considerations, adds another layer of complexity to the situation.

In conclusion, the direct confrontation between Iran and Israel represents a dangerous escalation in tensions in the Middle East, with far-reaching implications. As both sides weigh their next moves, the risk of further conflict and its ripple effects on the region and beyond cannot be underestimated. Efforts to defuse tensions and pursue diplomatic solutions as suggested by New Delhi are essential to avoid a descent into broader conflict.