Iran’s Attack on an Israeli Ship Is a Diplomatic Opportunity

March 1, 2021 | Yoav Limor
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Today Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed that the explosions that blew two holes in an Israeli-owned cargo ship on Friday were the work of Iran. The incident was followed by airstrikes on military targets in the vicinity of Damascus, likely carried out by the IDF—which might have been retaliation, but might also have been routine attempts to curtail the Iranian military buildup in Syria. But irrespective of its military response, Yoav Limor urges Jerusalem to act diplomatically as well:

The attack didn’t take Israeli officials by surprise. The ayatollahs’ regime has suffered painful blows both across the Middle East and inside Iran in recent years and has been seeking revenge for quite some time. Friday’s attack fits the bill, while allowing Tehran to maintain a low profile. Although the Iranians opted for a civilian and not a military target, it is doubtful Israel will act [dramatically in response].

However, Israel now has an opportunity to leverage the event in the diplomatic arena, in particular with the U.S. administration, which is now busy formulating its policy on Iran. Following an initial month that saw the White House display alarming weakness in the face of Iran, it seems it is now ready to deal with reality. We saw the first signs of this on Thursday night when the Americans hit Iranian targets on Syrian soil in response to an attack by pro-Iranian militias on American targets in Baghdad.

The name of the game in this effort is intelligence. Just like with the nuclear program, Israel needs to get to Washington, and other relevant capitals, to present officials with facts and testimonies. There is an abundance of such material on Iran’s nuclear program, violations, and deceptions, and, one can assume, on Friday’s attack in the Gulf of Oman as well.

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