Amatuer video of blast in Iran 311.
(photo credit: Press TV)
Israelis went to sleep Monday night to reports of a mysterious blast in the Iranian city of Isfahan, home to a key
nuclear facility. Just a few hours later, they woke up to explosions in northern
Israel caused by Katyusha rockets launched from Lebanon.
Most likely, although the possibility that Tehran asked Hezbollah to instruct a
splinter Palestinian group to launch rockets to divert attention from its own
troubles was considered within the IDF on Tuesday.
Opinion: Iran in the media
The problem is that
such explosions could lead to larger conflicts in a region as tightly wound as
the Middle East, even if the sides involved don’t intend them to.
other hand, a scenario more carefully scrutinized was that Hezbollah decided to
ease its tight grip over these groups and enable one of them to fire four
rockets in order to send Israel a warning.
The last time rockets were
fired from Lebanon was about two years ago. The Palestinian groups behind those
attacks have not disappeared. What has changed is Hezbollah’s control over
southern Lebanon and its strict refusal to allow these groups to operate against
If the rocket attacks are meant to be interpreted as a signal by
Hezbollah, then Israel might need to be concerned.
On the one hand, the
Islamists might be signaling that they have the ability to ignite Israel’s
northern border at the behest of their Iranian or Syrian patrons, both of which
are facing major challenges. On the other, it could be Hezbollah’s way of
reminding Israel of its capabilities as it contemplates the transfer of advanced
military equipment from Syria to Lebanon due to concern over the stability of
President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Hezbollah is believed to have already
brought in some advanced systems – possibly Scud missiles – that it was storing
in Syria, but it has more there and is concerned that they will be lost once
Assad is toppled.
Israel also knows how to signal.
Its response to
the rocket launches – artillery fire in the direction of the launch sites – was
not meant to achieve an operational goal. Instead, it was intended to show
Hezbollah that the days when Israel sat on its hands are over – that it is on
high alert along the border with the ability to act immediately if and when
Meanwhile, the cause and target of the explosion that hit Isfahan
on Monday remain a mystery.
It is possible that things will stay that way
– or that the explosion really wasn’t anything.
As Intelligence Minister
Dan Meridor said Tuesday: Not everything is from a James Bond
Either way, Iran is back in the headlines this week with two of
Israel’s former spymasters making their first public comments since retiring
earlier this year.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of Military
Intelligence, held a press conference on Tuesday to mark his appointment as head
of a think tank in Tel Aviv, and ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan gave an exclusive
interview to the Uvda (Fact) news program on Channel 2.
concurrent tenures, Dagan and Yadlin did not always see eye-to-eye and
frequently clashed over budgets and operations.
Yadlin, for example, was
not happy with Dagan’s success in securing multi-million-dollar budgets from
consecutive Israeli governments at MI’s expense.
This week, however, they
are completely coordinated, not only in their timing but also in their general
message, which is that Israel has time before it needs to launch a military
strike to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
The two disagree over the damage
that would result from the war an Israeli strike would cause. Dagan dismissed
Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s comment that fewer than 500 people would be killed
here, and said that “there will be many more [dead].”
Both share the same
concern that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Barak have already made up
their minds to attack Iran. In closed briefings, Barak already speaks like there
are no alternatives.
The ex-spymasters think there are, and the rockets
fired from Lebanon on Tuesday should serve as a warning of what could happen if
those alternatives are not first exhausted.