This piece will try to interpret the repercussions of Iran’s attack on Israel. It will not only consider possible outcomes for Iran, Israel and the USA but also argue possible future outcomes. The piece concludes that although Iran’s retaliatory strike provides a temporary win-win scenario for Iran, Israel and the USA but not for the people of Gaza. Whatever the outcome, the people are still suffering.

On the 1st of April, Israel attacked an Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria killing Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, among other Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders. Iran retaliated by conducting “Operation True Promise”. Iran used a combination of arsenal including drones, cruise and ballistic missiles.

In terms of damage inflicted on Israel, the retaliatory strike aimed at minimizing casualties and amplified the spectacle.

This is surprising because the Hamas attack of October 7th caused heavy casualties for Israel. The burning question is what Israel, Iran and the USA gained from this brief skirmish.

For Iran, it was a matter of the country’s self-respect that they there were attacked directly by Israel, a state which Iran publicly denounces. Iran had to respond showcasing its ability to strike Israel whenever it wanted. In addition, this was the first time that Iran openly attacked Israel citing article 51 of the UN allowing for self-defence, thus, undoing years of shadow warfare between Iran and Israel.

It is important to note that Iran’s mission to the United Nations said in a post on social media platform X that “the matter can be deemed concluded” and that the USA should remain out of it. It is also important that the USA did not retaliate in response to Iran’s attack on Israel. This will certainly embolden Iran as it shows that the USA does not want the Israel-Gaza conflict spiralling into a wider regional conflict.

For Israel, the attack served multiple purposes. At first, Israel wanted to turn the attention away from its planned offensive in Rafa and the strong international pressure to agree to a cease-fire. This episode with Iran greatly reduced the pressure on Israel on that front. The world is now focused on the possibility of a wider regional conflict. Second, Israel along with the help of its allies, primarily the USA and the UK was able to repel 99% of the missiles and drones thus minimizing damage.

This was in a way a domestic victory for Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel effectively defended its self against Iran as the October 7th attack by Hamas shattered the invincibility of Israel’s defenses.

Third, Israel is reassured of US backing in its conflict with Iran. This reassurance was significant for Israel because when USA abstained from using its veto to stop a UNSC resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and later Netanyahu’s rejection to send a delegation to Washington put a dent in the relationship between the two countries.

However, Joe Biden’s statement that US support for Israel is ironclad strengthens Israel’s position. This has given Netanyahu much-needed breathing space in the international arena and at home where he faces stiff resistance in concluding this conflict.

For the US, the biggest predicament is averted for the time being that is being dragged into another regional war. The USA concluded its twenty-year Afghanistan front in 2021 and is indirectly engaged in the Russia-Ukraine war. The last thing it would want was a new front siding with Israel against Iran during the crucial election year. However, the White House in a statement has termed Israel’s ability to repel the attack as a success and reiterated it’s all-out support for Israel.

This begs the question, what next? For Iran, it has explicitly stated that the retaliatory strike marks the conclusion of the matter. This means that Iran is not looking for an escalation; however, if push comes to shove, Iran won’t hesitate either. For the time being, the ball is in Israel’s court. For Israel, it depends on whether Tel Aviv is looking for escalation. An attack on Iran while already engaging Hamas in Gaza signals that Israel does want escalation. One of the reasons can be that Israel wants to pull the USA and its allies back into the Middle East and Iran serves as the perfect bull’s eye to this end.

It remains to be seen what the War Cabinet of Benjamin Netanyahu decides in the days ahead. For the USA, Joe Biden is walking a tightrope as on one hand the White House stands firm with Israel, on the other Joe Biden’s administration is under criticism for the handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict.

To make matters complicated, the US Presidential election is in November and Biden needs to attract voters who criticize him over his policy on Gaza.

Given the domestic political mood in the USA, Biden will most likely want to avoid a wider regional conflict, which is exactly what Israel wants. Thus, both Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden are beleaguered in the domestic arena.

Lastly, apart from all the war-mongering and vitriol, one thing remains unchanged, the suffering of the people of Gaza. As these countries battle it out, innocent people, including women and children continue to die. No matter who comes as the victor, the people of Gaza are the ones on the receiving end of the stick.

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