What will come first: War with Iran or peace with Saudi Arabia? - opinion

Published date25 May 2023
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
Israel has the ability to strike Iran, Halevi said, just as reports came out of the explosion. Was one connected to the other? Even if the chemical blast was not caused by Israel, the timing was hard to ignore and in the Middle East, sometimes perception is all that is needed

What is also hard to ignore is the escalation in Israeli threats over the last few days. Before Halevi, Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva addressed the conference and warned that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is close to a mistake that could lead to a massive war with Israel. As Halevi clarified in his speech, such a war would be painful for Israel, but it would be doubly painful for Lebanon and even more so for Hezbollah.

Based on the two speeches and the timing of the mysterious chemical blast, one could get the impression that a conflict is quickly brewing beneath the surface and just waiting to erupt. While this might be the case, what is more likely happening here is the rollout of a public relations campaign by the IDF brass aimed at ensuring the opposite – that such a war does not happen.

Will Israel go to war with Iran?

There is little doubt in Israel that an overt and direct clash with Iran will happen one day. It could be over its nuclear program – if the ayatollahs decide to break out to a bomb and Israel decides to attack – or if an Israeli strike in Syria, for example, spills over into Iran and draws a retaliation. Iran has an open account with Israel over the number of soldiers that have been killed in recent years – mostly in Syria – and it has in the past tried to avenge those deaths. A successful Iranian attack would force Israel to respond, and such a response might not be limited to Syria.

The same is true for Hezbollah. When a member of the Iran-backed group snuck into Israel in March and detonated a sizeable explosive device, thankfully it only wounded one person. Imagine that it had done much more. Would Israel have been able to restrain itself? It likely would have needed to do something against Hezbollah in Lebanon and, if that were to have happened, a larger conflict would have been as close to a fait accompli as is possible.

The messages from Halevi and Haliva are heard loud and clear on the other side. The drill Hezbollah guerillas held along the border in recent days to simulate a cross-border infiltration into an Israeli town, as well as the satellite footage revealed by AP of Iranian construction deep underground near its nuclear...

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