The War and Israel’s Iran Dilemma

Some new grim statistics, apt to be ignored by the self-appointed scorekeepers: on Sunday, Hizballah killed an Israeli civilian and wounded thirteen others by firing an antitank missile at a group of workers repairing electrical lines. Yesterday the same Iran-backed military proxy fired another missile at a moshav in the Galilee, wounding two more. These incidents have heightened concerns of more serious escalation on the northern front. In an attempt at a comprehensive analysis of the current war, Mark Helprin considers the dilemma posed by Hizballah and its backers in Tehran, who are still on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons:

[T]he United States is entirely capable of relieving Iran of its nuclear infrastructure and a good part of its missilery, as it should have long ago. Whether it will or will not is an open and highly contentious question, and it is unfortunately reasonable to assume that the largely unreasonable Iranian government will conclude after decades of American propitiation that America won’t—even if it will.

Israel, however, if it can, must—though tactically, for the sake of surprise, it might strike Hizballah first. My longstanding and best estimate is that Israel can by force eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat, but that in doing so it would have to devote so much of its airpower as to risk its survival should the mission fail.

Hitting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure first (and as much of its missilery as possible) would demoralize its allies perhaps to the point that Hizballah would draw in its horns for fear of operating with a decisively weakened patron. Or perhaps not, in which case Israel would have sacrificed those benefits of surprise achievable by striking Hizballah first. The choice will remain open as long as Iran has no deployable nuclear weapons.

Read more at Claremont Review of Books

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hizballah, Iran


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