The Iranian Consulate in Damascus, Syria located next to its embassy was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike on 1 April 2024, resulting in the martyrdom of Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi of the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) along with seven other IRGC officials. This was certainly a transgression of the territorial sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic and a violation of the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic and Consular Relations.

It was foolish for Israel to expect that Iran would not retaliate to an attack on its diplomatic assets in Syria. The Iranian Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei while addressing a crowd in Tehran vowed to punish Israel for its aggression. The attack on the Iranian Consulate was condemned by the European Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) as well as by many other countries.

On the night of 13 April 2024, the IRGC launched Operation Vadah-e-sadiq (True Promise) striking Israeli airspace and soil with over 300 drones and missiles fulfilling the pledge of its Supreme Leader.

According to Iran, it informed; the United States, Switzerland, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, 72 hours in advance of the attack that its response would be proportionate and sufficient to retaliate against Israel’s airstrike on its consulate in Syria and that Iran will not go beyond that.

The Iranian attack on Israel will indisputably turn out to be the cause of an irreversible major escalation in the Middle East marking the first time Iranian missiles arrived on Israeli soil. The Iranian Permanent Mission to the UN posted on its social media platform X justifying its retaliation on Israel based on Article 51 of the UN charter and deeming the matter to be concluded while warning that if the Zionist regime makes another mistake Iran’s response will be more severe adding that this is a conflict between Iran and Israel and that the United States must not come in between the clash. According to Article 51 of the UN charter:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

In other words, until the UN Security Council does not intervene a member state has the right to defend itself if it has been militarily attacked. Based on Israeli claims its missile defense systems intercepted 99 percent of the drones and missiles from Iran. This means that the system does not guarantee 100 percent protection and provides evidence that Iranian ballistic weapons hit Israel.

The imagery of Iranian drones and missiles in Israel exploding in flames when intercepted by the missiles activated from the Israeli air defense systems illuminated the night sky providing fiery visuals perfect for mass and social media consumption suited the objectives of the Iranians to avoid any casualties if possible both civilian and military while striking fear in the hearts of the Israelis and to demolish the notion Israel was a powerful state and therefore militarily invincible.

This shows that the intention of Iran was not to target life and property but rather to wage psychological warfare on the Israelites deterring them from future encroachments on Iran.

The attack on Israel signaled a paradigm shift in the Iranian modus operandi from proxy warfare to direct armed confrontation with Israel. There is no doubt that Iran has exhibited its military capabilities of inflicting damage on Israel from its territory however, in Operation Vadah-e-sadiq, Iran did not even exert itself or proliferate the full might of its ballistic weaponry arsenal.

Iran deployed its Shahed-136 and Shahed-238 drones against Israel. These are Kamikaze drones loaded with a small warhead meant to self-destruct while hitting its desired target. This means that the drones which were launched from Iran were destined for a one-way flight to Israel. The Shahed-136 drones are propeller-powered while a turbojet powers the Shahed-238 drones. Iran also only used its long-range ballistic and cruise missiles while reserving its hypersonic missiles which can reach Israel within seven minutes.

It is estimated that Israel and its allies incurred a cost of at least USD 1.2 billion within one night to intercept the ariel projectiles aimed towards its territory while Iran would have probably spent only less than USD 50 million to conduct its entire operation against Israel. The aero-defense system of Israel consists of three categories; short, medium, and long-range. The Iron Dome System is commonly used to intercept short-range projectiles within 70 Kilometers (Km) usually launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

The David’s Sling interceptor is used to neutralize medium-range missiles incoming between 40 Km to 300Km while the Arrow System will be activated to intercept long-range ballistic missiles from up to 2400km. The Arrow System is made up of two components; Arrow 2 for lower altitudes and Arrow 3 for higher altitudes. The cost of each Iron Dome interceptor missile is around USD 50,000 while every David’s Sling missile that is launched would cost Israel and its allies, USD 1 million.

The Arrow anti-ballistic missile is much more expensive costing at least $3.5 million per launch. This explains why the IRGC declared the retaliation a success despite not inflicting serious casualties on Israel.

The Iranian missile and drone attack on Israel demonstrates that despite such a sophisticated and expensive air defensive system, Israel is not an impenetrable fortress and it still can be hit by ariel attacks launched from thousands of miles away. The ability of Iran to make Israel and its Western and Arab coalition partners incur a cost of USD 1 billion per night while spending merely tens of millions of dollars shows that a prolonged war between Iran and Israel is not sustainable without external support from their allies.

Iran has made it clear that it can push the State of Israel to the brink of collapse through military means without ever having to visit Israel in person. It is a known fact that the IRGC is active through militant organizations in Middle Eastern countries with significant Shia-Muslim populations such as; Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. The territory of these countries can easily be used by Iran against Israel in a conventional war which could include an Iranian invasion of Israel after depleting their missile stockpiles.

The 7 October 2023, Hamas attack on Israel was undoubtedly an act of terrorism that is worthy of condemnation without any reservations. At the same time, the Israeli military actions in Gaza have been overly excessive to the point of committing war crimes against humanity. Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, the two-state solution is no longer an option for either party. The situation has now transformed into a zero-sum game whereby it will be a case of either Israel or Palestine; which unfortunately will be decided on the battlefield instead of diplomatic channels.

The Israel-Hamas war has permanently destroyed the tourism industry in Israel and has made life miserable for both the Arabs and Jews living in the occupied territories.

There is already a Jewish exodus from Israel due to the consistent domestic insecurity and economic decline of the country. No one would want to live permanently in a war zone regardless of how holy the land is irrespective of religion. There have also been reports of long queues outside European Embassies in Tel Aviv of Jewish people seeking to emigrate to countries in the European Union either through making citizenship claims based on historical familial linkages or even attempting to apply for refugee status.

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