Israel must show it is ‘prepared to go berserk’ on Iran in the wake of its missile onslaught | DAILY MAIL

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Israel must show it is ‘prepared to go berserk’ on Iran in the wake of its missile onslaught, says security minister as EU warns Middle East is ‘on the edge of the cliff’ ahead of possible reprisals by Netanyahu | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by Chris Jewers, Originally published in The Daily Mail.


Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister – urged Israel to ‘go berserk’ despite mounting fears that the Middle East could be dragged into all-out war

Israel must show it is ‘prepared to go berserk’ on Iran in the wake of its weekend missile onslaught, the country’s hard-line security minister has said.

The country’s war cabinet met on Sunday and again today to discuss the Israeli response to Tehran launching 300 missiles and drones on Saturday, the majority of which were intercepted by Israel and its allies the US, UK, France and Jordan.

According to people familiar with the matter, the five-person cabinet – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – is considering whether to ‘go big’ in its retaliation, or respond to Iran’s attack in a more measured way.

Nationalist figures in Israel are calling for the former, including Itamar Ben-Gvir – Israel’s national security minister and leader of the most popular Right-wing party – even as the EU warned the Middle East is standing ‘on the edge of a cliff.’

‘Ideas of containment and moderation are the perceptions that ended on Oct 7,’ he said in a statement late on Sunday, referring to the deadly Hamas terror attack last year that killed around 1,200 people in Israel. ‘To create a deterrent in the Middle East, Israel has got to show that it is prepared to go berserk,’ he added.

Far-right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich said if Israel ‘hesitates’ in its response, then ‘we will put ourselves and our children in existential danger,’ in another nod to the Hamas attack which also saw 240 people kidnapped and resulted in Israel launching its devastating military offensive on the Gaza strip.

Pressure from the likes of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich came despite fears that further retaliation could push the Middle East further towards an all-out war.

With such fears mounting, Israel’s western allies have urged restraint.

US president Joe Biden has reportedly told Netanyahu that his military would not support the Jewish state in any counterattack, urging the Israeli leader to ‘take the win’ after the IDF said it had shot down 99 percent of the 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles fired by Iran with help from allies.

Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a Spanish radio station today: ‘We’re on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it.

‘We have to step on the brakes and reverse gear,’ he said.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron urged Israel to be ‘smart as well as tough’ by not escalating the conflict with Iran. 

Israel should recognise Tehran’s attack as an ‘almost total failure’ and ‘think with head as well as heart’ in its response, he said, while confirming British RAF jets shot down a ‘small number’ of drones fired by Iran.

In addition to Netanyahu, the War Cabinet also features defence minister Yoav Gallant and former defence minister Benny Gantz.

Statements from Gallant and Gantz on Sunday suggested a direct Israeli response to Iran’s weekend salvo was not imminently on the cards.

It was their comments that prompted the likes of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich to speak.

‘We need a crushing attack,’ Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote on X.

Iran, meanwhile, accused Israel of crossing ‘a red line that was unbearable’ by striking the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1, and told Western leaders they should ‘appreciate its restraint’ shown towards Israel.

Chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces General Mohammad Bagheri said after Saturday’s attack: ‘The Mission is accomplished and the operation is over and we have no intentions of going further.’

However, Bagheri warned that if Israel did ‘commit to any act against us, be it on our territory or in our compounds in Syria’, then Iran’s ‘next operation will be larger.’

Any decision on whether to strike back against Iran will be Israel’s alone, according to the person familiar with the cabinet’s discussions quoted by the Financial Times.

However, discussions are understood to be continuing with Israel’s key allies, especially those in the White House.

IDF spokesman Peter Lerner on Monday morning confirmed that there would be retaliation from Israel, stating that this could involve ‘a strike or no strike.’

He explained that military top brass had submitted ‘a wide range of options’ and that there are ‘a lot of different scenarios’ on the table.

The Israeli government will ‘decide on the steps forward’ as early as today or within the coming days, Lerner told reporters.

He added that ‘just because we were successful in intercepting [99 percent of the missiles], we shouldn’t underestimate what Iran did. We can’t take that lightly.’

According to Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official who went on to serve as senior Arab affairs adviser to Jerusalem Mayors Teddy Kollek and Ehud Olmert, the cabinet has many ‘complex calculations to make’, warning that if the country chooses not to act, it risks appearing weak to its enemies.

‘Israel’s war cabinet’s seeming indecision reflects the many complex calculations it must make as it plans its response to Iran’s aggression,’ he told MailOnline.

‘While the US is not wrong in stating that the aerial defence and the consolidation of the coalition in Israel’s defence was a great success for Israel against Iran during the Saturday attack, the region, including Iran is watching to see if Israel is capable of mounting a response, and a failure to do so will result in added risk for Israel of future attacks from Iran and other enemies.’

He continued: ‘In Middle East geopolitics, perception is key, as is projection of power and deterrence capacity.

‘That being said, for the moment, the US has advocated for Israel not to launch a wide-scale attack on Iran and Israel has the opportunity to use that US priority to its advantage in pushing the US for the diplomatic support of its incursion into Rafah and dismantling of the Iranian proxies – Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

‘Likely, these conversations have already started and it’s clear that following Iran’s attack, Israel has already mobilised additional reserve forces to deploy to Gaza.’

On what Israel’s response to Iran could look like, Melamed said: ‘It’s very possible that Israel will respond to the direct attack with a series of covert operations within Iranian borders, telegraphing Israel’s deterrence capabilities, while highlighting Iranian exposure to Israel’s military and intelligence prowess.

‘These operations are likely to start in the near future,’ he added.

Justin Crump, British army veteran and CEO of global risk analysis firm Sibylline, said he also expected to see Israel’s allies implement more sanctions on Tehran.

‘Israel’s allies are signalling that they expect international pressure on Iran to be increased, and are hoping that this sort of action – for example – will suffice to mitigate an Israeli response,’ he said. ‘This seems uncertain, with hawks on all sides arguing that Iran will remain a particular threat.

‘Drone factories, missile development sites and nuclear sites are high on any potential target list. Meanwhile, allied strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq will likely also increase as an attempt to mollify the Israeli position.’

Mr Crump also said the situation has likely strengthened Netanyahu’s position.

The situation has certainly helped Israel and its leadership, reversing the trend of pressure over Gaza and helping defuse some political tensions that were once again building,’ he said.

‘Permacrisis suits Netanyahu at this stage and it is to be expected that he will leverage this environment. The Israeli public stance from the war cabinet will therefore remain belligerent, whatever goes on behind the scenes.’

As for whether the conflict could escalate further, Mr Crump said that now ‘lies firmly in Israel’s court and will rely largely on what is considered in the best interests of the embattled state.’

‘But,’ he warned, ‘the slide into full conflicts often emerges quickly and in this environment small miscalculations can have enormous consequences – especially when so many on all sides are partly cheering on a conflict.’

Biden is privately fearing a potentially ‘catastrophic escalation’ as the Israeli government plans their next move, Pentagon officials told NBC News.

Senior Pentagon officials told the outlet last night that they worry an Israeli response to the attacks would be ‘frenetic.’

White House staff told NBC that Biden has also privately expressed concern that Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to draw the US into the conflict.

Iran launched hundreds of missiles and drones on Saturday in response to a drone strike in Syria that killed 12 Iranians, including two top generals.

Biden spoke with Netanyahu in a late-night phone call on Saturday and made it clear that US forces would not participate any further.

Biden has urged Netanyahu not to respond to the attacks by retaliating against Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister’s war cabinet is in favor of a reaction – but is divided over the timing and scale of any such response, according to reports.

The White House is said to believe that the Israelis are not looking for a direct war with Iran. An Israeli official in Netanyahu’s office said: ‘Israel can’t allow such a large attack over Israel without some kind of response be it small or large.’

The US was joined by UK, French and Jordanian forces in assisting Israel in shooting down dozens of drones and missiles fired by Iran, in what was the first time it had launched a direct military assault on Israel.

Israeli authorities said 99 percent of the inbound weapons were shot down without causing any significant damage.

The push to encourage Israel to show restraint mirrored ongoing American efforts to curtail Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, which is now in its seventh month.

But Fawaz Gerges, professor of International Relations and Middle Eastern Politics at the London School of Economics criticized Biden’s ability to translate his concerns into influence over Israel.

He told NBC: ‘The strategy of the Biden administration has failed miserably. Biden is sleepwalking the U.S. into another catastrophic war in the Middle East.

‘His overarching goal of preventing the war in Gaza from escalating into neighboring countries has failed.

‘Biden has failed to influence Netanyahu’s decisions either in Gaza or towards Iran.’

Benjamin Friedman, policy director of the think tank Defense Priorities, said: ‘The Israeli government has courted a fight with Iran, perhaps encouraged by the prospect of U.S. help in going after Iran.

‘Instead of talking about ‘ironclad’ support for Israel, the president should have made clear the U.S. support is limited and does not extend to all circumstances.’

While the US were preparing for days for such an attack, the launches were at the ‘high end’ of what was anticipated, according to the officials.

Over the weekend, Israel described Iran’s unprecedented 350-missile attack as a ‘declaration of war’ and confirmed it has plans for ‘offensive and defensive action’.

The country’s president Isaac Herzog insisted that Israel did not want a war but suggested they would retaliate after Iran’s audacious airstrike early on Sunday.

He said it was ‘about time the world faces this empire of evil in Tehran’ and makes it clear that its behavior is ‘unacceptable’.

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan said that the Iranian attack had ‘crossed every red line’ and his country has the ‘legal right to retaliate’.  

At a press conference on Sunday evening, IDF Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Iran’s plan had ‘failed’ – as he praised the response from the ‘regional alliance’.

Hagari accused Iran of trying to ‘ignite the Middle East and escalate the region’ by firing 60 tons of suicide drones, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and rockets at Israel overnight – but insisted his army was on ‘high alert’.

‘Over the last two hours, we approved operational plans for both offensive and defensive action,’ he said.

‘We will continue to protect the State of Israel, and together with our partners, we will continue to build a more secure and stable future for the entire Middle East.’

The IDF spokesman did not elaborate on what plans have been approved, but it comes after a meeting of Israel’s war cabinet. 

Biden and leaders of the G7 held talks on Sunday in which they ‘unequivocally’ condemned Iran’s attack on Israel and warned that the risk of an ‘uncontrollable regional escalation’ must be avoided.

In a joint statement following an urgent call, the countries said they ‘stand ready to take further measures now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives’.

The G7 statement said: ‘We, the leaders of the G7, unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms Iran’s direct and unprecedented attack against Israel.

‘Iran fired hundreds of drones and missiles towards Israel. Israel, with the help of its partners, defeated the attack.

‘We express our full solidarity and support to Israel and its people and reaffirm our commitment towards its security.

‘With its actions, Iran has further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation. This must be avoided.’

Leaders from the Group of Seven advanced economies, which comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the US, demanded Iran and its proxies ‘cease their attacks,’ adding: ‘We stand ready to take further measures now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives.’

The statement continued: ‘We will also strengthen our co-operation to end the crisis in Gaza, including by continuing to work towards an immediate and sustainable ceasefire and the release of hostages by Hamas, and deliver increased humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need.’

Netanyahu’s war cabinet favours a retaliation against Iran for its mass drone and missile attack but is divided over the timing and scale of any such response, according to Reuters.

The five-member cabinet, in which Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz have decision-making powers, was expected to convene again for further discussions after meeting on Sunday.

Hagari also told reporters on Sunday: ‘Together we thwarted Iran’s attack. This was the first time that such a coalition worked together against the threat of Iran and its proxies in the Middle East.’

‘Iran launched over 350 threats, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, rockets and suicide drones towards Israel and also other countries in the region could have got that threat on the way.’

Speaking to Sky News, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said: ‘There is an empire of evil in Tehran which has its proxies laid all over the region and terror cells all over the world, and it’s about time that the world faces this empire of evil in Tehran and makes it clear to the Iranian regime that this cannot pass by.

‘Everyone should look at this and ask ‘what would we do, had we been attacked in such an aggressive way?’

He also said: ‘Israel has undertaken all the necessary steps to block this attack, which was a violent, flagrant violation of all the rules.

Asked about the global warnings not to escalate, he said: ‘The last thing Israel is seeking in this region is to go to war. We are seeking peace, we are peace-seekers.’


Israel must show it is ‘prepared to go berserk’ on Iran in the wake of its missile onslaught, says security minister as EU warns Middle East is ‘on the edge of the cliff’ ahead of possible reprisals by Netanyahu | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by Chris Jewers, Originally published in The Daily Mail.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamedhttps://insidethemiddle-east.com
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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