Making Sense of Iranian Threats to Attack Israeli Cities

In a recent press conference, the commander of the Islamic Republic’s regular army, General Kioumars Heydari, announced the introduction of a new model of drone, which, he said, was developed with “attacks on Tel Aviv and Haifa” in mind. Amir Taheri questions the prudence of such saber-rattling, examining both its unusual character and its possible causes:

To start with, the general made no mention of the “supreme guide” Ali Khamenei, who is supposed to be the ultimate decision-maker on all major issues, especially war and peace. Khamenei has always said he would love to see Israel “wiped from the face of existence.” But he has never said that his own Islamic Republic is going to launch a direct war to destroy the “Zionist entity.” Almost ten years ago, he prophesized that Israel would disappear within 25 years. In the meantime, however, his Islamic Republic won’t take any direct action against Israel, instead using Lebanese and Palestinian surrogates in a low-intensity proxy war.

For the past six years, Israel has been attacking Iranian positions in Syria and even hitting targets inside Iran without being attacked in response. The question now is simple: has the “grin and bear it” policy changed? Should we assume the Iranian military is now in the driver’s seat on such high-risk issues? Traditionally, the military in Iran was required to obey the “silence is golden” rule. Even after the mullahs seized power, that tradition was largely observed. The military did make boastful speeches but never threatened any country with any specific course of action.

The irresponsible boast also comes at a critical point in the dicey negotiations to revive Barack Obama’s nuclear deal and to recognize the Islamic Republic’s supposedly peaceful intentions.

Did part of the Khomeinist establishment write the Heydari puppet-show script to derail President Joe Biden’s efforts to undo Donald Trump’s policy on Iran? Is the same faction not aware of the fact that there is not, and will not be, Iranian popular support for any war waged on purely ideological grounds? Or is the beating of war drums a ploy to divert attention from the regime’s economic, diplomatic, and social failures?

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Syria


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security