Understanding Iran’s strategy for threatening Israel

Many Western analysts highly underestimate the existential nature of the repeated threats by Iranian leaders to the destruction of Israel.

By BOB FEFERMAN
October 16, 2018 21:19
3 minute read.
Iran-Hezbollah terror

Iran's sponsorship of Hezbollah includes $800 million in annual financial support, the supply of 130,000 rockets and missiles. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Over the past 18 months, we have seen growing tension on Israel’s northern border. According to recent reports, the Israeli Air Force has conducted more than 200 air strikes in Syria during this period. Although the Western media has largely ignored these developments, there are serious implications for this dangerous situation. That’s why it is important to connect the dots and look at these events in the context of Iran’s long-term strategy to threaten the survival of Israel.

Many Western analysts highly underestimate the existential nature of the repeated threats by Iranian leaders to the destruction of Israel. One popular American Sunday morning talk show host dismissed the threats as empty rhetoric saying, “They really don’t do much about it.”

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Even if we set aside the discussion over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it should be clear to all that for more than two decades, Iran has dedicated tremendous resources to supporting terrorist proxies who share their nefarious goals.

How else does one explain Iran’s ongoing support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that began in the 1990s and includes the provision of weapons, funding and training?
How else does one explain Iran’s sponsorship of Hezbollah, which includes $800 million in annual financial support, the supply of 130,000 rockets and missiles, and Iran’s ongoing efforts to increase the range and accuracy of this vast arsenal?

After 168 suicide bombings in Israel (1993 to 2007), 4,000 rockets fired by Hezbollah at Israeli civilians during the 2006 Lebanon War, and 12,000 rockets launched at Israel by Hamas from Gaza since 2005, it is obvious that Iranian leaders are very serious about fulfilling their ambitions to destroy the Jewish state.

These threats are well-documented on the website of the non-partisan advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).

Moreover, the revelations of Prime Minister Netanyahu from last April about Iran’s nuclear archives taken from Iran in a bold mission by the Mossad prove that Iran’s nuclear program was never for peaceful purposes. It was and is a program to develop nuclear weapons.

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There is no doubt that after the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program under the nuclear deal (JCPOA) disappear or “sunset” in 2030, Iran will work to achieve “breakout” and develop nuclear weapons. Therefore, it is important to ask: How would Iran plan to use these weapons of mass destruction?

The nightmare scenario would be for Iran to place a nuclear warhead atop one of their long-range ballistic missiles and launch it at Israel. Since it is widely assumed that Israel also has nuclear weapons and a second-strike capability, this seems highly unlikely. However, there is another explanation for Iran’s nuclear strategy that also helps to understand the current tensions in the region.
The scenario was given by one of Israel’s most highly respected strategic analysts, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former head of Israel’s military intelligence. Yadlin is currently director of a leading Israeli think tank, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

 At a recent INSS conference on Israel, Iran and Syria, Yadlin explained, “For a long time we thought that the most dangerous thing in Iran is the nuclear element, and if we were able to postpone that by 10 years then we were okay. Over the past two years, we recognized that the Iranian strategy has two arms: one that is nuclear and one that is conventional. The Iranian strategy is to strengthen both arms at the same time.”

He said that Hezbollah’s huge arsenal of rockets and missiles is meant to deter Israel from launching a preemptive strike to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In the long term, he said that a nuclear-armed Iran would provide an umbrella for conventional power in the hands of proxies like Hezbollah.

Yadlin warned, “...Thanks to that nuclear umbrella, conventional power is going to disintegrate Israel. That’s the goal – to disintegrate Israel, to make its life so miserable through local proxies on its borders that it will lead to internal collapse…”.

This Iranian strategy explains why Iran is diligently working to establish a vast military infrastructure in Syria and improve the accuracy of Hezbollah’s arsenal of rockets and missiles in Lebanon. It also explains why Israel is determined to prevent the development of these threats through air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria.

The threats to Israel from Iranian leaders are not hypothetical. They are very real and they are developing now. To secure the future of Israel and peace in the region, we must raise awareness of Iran’s dangerous strategy to threaten the survival of Israel.

The writer is outreach coordinator for the non-partisan advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). 

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