International rehabilitation. The great opportunity now in the hands of Israel

Israel, along with the United States, Britain and France, successfully repelled last night's Iranian air operation. Jordan also shot down Iranian drones and missiles that entered its airspace. As he writesYedioth Ahronoth this event offered Israel the opportunity to reaffirm its political and international legitimacy, which had been called into question several times in the past.

The Iranian attack tested the IDF's defense plan, developed on the basis of accurate intelligence, the skill of Air Force pilots and the effectiveness of active defense systems. Of the 331 missiles and drones launched by Iran against Israel, 185 of the 185 kamikaze drones were shot down, 103 of 110 ballistic missiles were shot down and 36 of 36 cruise missiles were destroyed. Iran used two approaches: first, it attacked air bases in Nebatim and other infrastructure, and second, it tried to use the “saturation” tactic, that is, it tried to overload and cripple Israeli defensive systems with a high volume of missiles and drones. Despite all these efforts, Iran's quantity-based approach has not been successful. The Iranian attack saw the launch of approximately 36 cruise missiles. By comparison, the Iranian attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia in 2019 involved 17 drones and four cruise missiles, which managed to avoid interception.

This failure by Iran not only confirmed the effectiveness of Israel's intelligence and air superiority, but will have significant political consequences because it offered the West the opportunity to correct its path and Israel to re-establish its legitimacy, overcoming the political isolation resulting from the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Now, the main outstanding question concerns the nature and timing of Israel's response.

It is clear that there will not be an immediate Israeli military response and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yov Galant and Minister Benny Gantz, tasked by the Council of Ministers with formulating a response, are reflecting on the risks and opportunities that arise in the 'current situation. First of all, further actions by Iran must be discouraged; The mullahs have taken the unprecedented step of attacking Israel with the intent to inflict significant damage and undermine the security of its citizens. Failure to respond decisively could be interpreted as weakness not only by the ayatollahs and their “Axis of Resistance” allies, but also by other countries in the region that are considering normalizing their relations with Israel. However, we must take into account the clear requests from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Canada, who want Israel to avoid a disproportionate response that could destabilize the region. It is very likely that Israel will accept the request of its allies and in order to refocus on the current conflicts in Gaza and in the north, postponing the strategic approach towards Iran for a more appropriate moment even if the targeted operations will not stop in the case the opportunity arose to strike weapons depots, missile launch sites or other targets of interest. In this sense, this morning there were new air operations against Hezbollah in northern Lebanon.

The decision on how to respond requires great attention and meticulous planning and the desire for revenge (understandable), must not make us lose sight of Israel's main objective which remains the maintenance of its international legitimacy and the importance of establishing a new dialogue with the West. While deterrence may be temporary, the alliance with the West and the regional defensive architecture represent long-term strategic investments and are a legacy that must be preserved. Therefore, responding to the requests of the United States today is the wisest choice and it is certainly no coincidence that this morning the American Minister of Defense, Lloyd Austin and the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken stated that «the United States will not hesitate to protect their own forces and to support Israel.”