How will Israel confront the Iranian regime’s multi-front assault?
By Yoni Ben Menachem
Escalating terrorist attacks against Israelis and attacking Israel with rockets during Passover from Gaza, southern Lebanon, and Syria are only the first stages in the war of attrition by the Axis of Resistance led by Iran. The war plans use the strategy of uniting the fronts devised by General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who was assassinated by the United States in Iraq in January 2020.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards planned the attacks on Israel for a long time in cooperation with its affiliates. The current round of fighting is only the first stage in Iran’s phased plan to destroy Israel, and the next stages will follow.
The Axis of Resistance led by Iran estimates that the wave of Israeli protests against judicial reform and recent crises with the United States have weakened Israel. They believe the IDF cannot fight simultaneously on several fronts and deal with attacks of tens of thousands of rockets, precision missiles, and drones launched from across several borders, accompanied by a wave of terror from the West Bank.
Regarding Iran and Hizbullah, the strategic situation at the time of the 2006 Second Lebanon War has wholly changed. Hizbullah’s power has grown exponentially; today, it has an arsenal of 150,000 rockets and precision missiles. Moreover, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah claims he is not afraid of a military confrontation with Israel (while continuing to operate from a bunker deep under Beirut to avoid an Israeli attempt on his life).
Following the pummeling of Hamas in the 2021 Gaza war, Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas established Hamas bases in Lebanon, recruiting fighters from refugee camps north of Israel. The IED bomb explosion at Israel’s Megiddo Junction in the north on March 13, 2023, was believed to have been rigged by a Hamas-Lebanon operative who crossed from Lebanon.
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah (in brown cloak) met Hamas leaders Ismael Haniyeh (on the right of Nasrallah) and Saleh al-Arouri,
(Haniyeh’s deputy in Lebanon next to Haniyeh) on April 8, 2023. (Hizbullah Media Office, BNN Network)
Recent disturbances inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount were planned and provoked by Hamas. As expected, Israeli police dispersed rioters by force, and the stark images of the clashes were quickly distributed on Hamas social media and beyond. The social media posts triggered outrage and a call for revenge across the Muslim world. The Temple Mount violence also sought to ignite Israel’s Arab sector to riot as it did in May 2021 during the “Guardians of the Walls” military operation against Hamas in Gaza.
The overall goal of the Iran-led axis of resistance is to gradually weaken the IDF, tarnish Israel’s image as a democracy, erase the IDF’s reputation as the strongest army in the Middle East, and erode the morale of the Israeli public. Iran’s strategic vision is to trigger a significant conflict liberating all of “Palestine” from Israel – “from the river to the sea” – which the regime sees as possible.
Iran is in no hurry; it believes the battle is long. The first stage in the disintegration of Israel has already begun, the Zionist project has started to collapse, and the pressure on Israel should be increased gradually.
Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei: Israel Won’t Survive Another 25 Years
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has scheduled a speech ahead of the World Jerusalem Day commemoration, where he will address the recent events on the Temple Mount, Gaza, and the Lebanese border. His deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem, foreshadowed the message on his Twitter account on April 7:
Iran estimates that Israel is at one of its lowest points since its establishment while Iran grows stronger. Iran is close to obtaining nuclear weapons. It has joined the Russian-Chinese axis while the United States is being pushed out of the Middle East. Iran has improved its relations with Saudi Arabia and will soon draw closer to more countries in the Gulf.
In Iran’s estimation, the balance of power in the Middle East has tilted in its favor. Israel’s military attacks on Iran and Hizbullah in Syria cannot defeat them. The Palestinians, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon have a common interest in uniting with Iran against Israel.
The Israeli Response
Senior political officials in Jerusalem say that the Israeli military response to the rocket attacks from Gaza and southern Lebanon was careful and measured in a way that would not lead to an all-out war on several fronts. Israel does not seek such a war at the current time.
The Resistance Axis’ unification of fronts implemented by Iran is dangerous for Israel, and it needs to find the right way and timing to deal with it. In the most recent fighting, Israel lost the initiative and the ability to surprise. It had to respond to the enemies’ aggression in a way that would not lead to further escalation.
The primary consideration of the political echelon was to quietly pass the current period until after Passover, the month of Ramadan, and Israel Independence Day celebrations without unnecessary escalation. Israel’s leaders will avoid being dragged by the provocations of Hamas and Hizbullah.
A senior security official says that the Axis of Resistance led by Iran is utterly wrong in its assessment of the situation regarding Israel’s national strength. The state of Lebanon is in danger of disintegration and not Israel. Despite Hizbullah’s large arsenal of weapons, a strong military strike by Israel on Hizbullah and Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure will lead to its collapse.
Israel is now preparing for a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and will not allow it to obtain nuclear weapons. Israel has the power to achieve this goal.
The last word has not yet been said, and Israel is now reorganizing to thwart Iran’s phased plan.
Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.