Iran Is a Nuclear-Threshold State, and Israel’s Options Are Shrinking

While officials in Jerusalem have been tightlipped about what capabilities they have to destroy the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities, there is no doubt that doing so will be a more difficult task than destroying Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981 or the Syrian reactor in 2007. Moreover, the closer Tehran gets to developing atomic weapons, the harder the mission becomes. The IDF, meanwhile, has not succeeded in driving Iran out of Syria, even if its air campaign has prevented a major weapons buildup there. Reuel Marc Gerecht takes stock of this perilous situation:

The Biden administration’s attempt to bribe Iran to restrain its nuclear growth (which is essentially what the recent $6 billion hostage payment was), and the decision not to enforce sanctions against Iran’s increasing oil trade in the Far East, will further complicate and depress Israeli strategies for confronting the theocracy. American choices and Israeli limitations alone likely oblige Jerusalem to default to mutually assured destruction as the only possibly effective anti-Iran doctrine.

The Islamic Republic is now a nuclear-threshold state. It has a large stockpile of enriched uranium, advanced centrifuges operating in underground facilities that could quickly enhance uranium to bomb-grade, and physicists and engineers who are sufficiently competent to construct an atomic trigger. The Israelis know from the stolen nuclear archives that Iranian designs for a trigger are good enough. Given the routine, extensive military exchanges between Russia and Iran, it’s reasonable to assume that if Iranian engineers are somehow lacking in expertise, the Russians have helped to solve persisting problems. The Islamic Republic going nuclear doesn’t diminish Moscow; it does diminish the United States. The United States is indirectly at war with Vladimir Putin, and he wants ways to get even.

The Arabs who fear a nuclear Islamic Republic will ineluctably draw closer to China and Russia, who both have become significant patrons of the clerical regime. . . . Despite the omnipresent conspiracy theories about Israel and Jewish power circulating in the Middle East, it’s a good guess that few among the Arab elite now think Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear sites. That assessment has . . . also been priced into Washington’s behavior: the Biden administration shows none of the nervousness toward Israel that the Obama crowd did before the nuclear deal’s diplomacy started.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion