Israel’s war cabinet considers whether to ‘go big’ against Iran | DAILY MAIL

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Israel’s war cabinet considers whether to ‘go big’ against Iran – despite WW3 fears: Ministers discuss airstrikes and pressure Netanyahu to launch ‘crushing attack’ despite fears of ‘catastrophic escalation’ | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by Chris Jewers, Originally published in The Daily Mail.


Israel is considering whether to ‘go big’ in its retaliation against Iran despite fears of an all-out conflict in the Middle East, according to reports, after the Islamic republic launched hundreds of missiles at the Jewish State over the weekend.

The country’s war cabinet met on Sunday to decide between military retaliation, or to respond to Iran’s attack in a more measured way, according to the Financial Times – citing an Israeli figure familiar with government deliberations.

Nationalist figures in Israel called on the five-person cabinet – which includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – to choose the former, despite fears from allies of a ‘catastrophic escalation’ leading to a wider Middle East war and World War Three.

‘We need a crushing attack,’ Itamar Ben-Gvir wrote on X. Finance minister Bezalel Smotrich said if Israel ‘hesitates’ in its response, then ‘we will put ourselves and our children in existential danger.’

Conversely, world powers have urged Netanyahu to show restraint after Iran launched the attack late on Saturday, which was in retaliation to a suspected Israeli strike in Damascus that killed several Iranian commanders.

United States president Joe Biden is reported to have said his country will not participate in any Israeli counter attacks, fearing a ‘catastrophic escalation’.

‘You got a win. Take the win,’ Biden is understood to have told Netanyahu 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 US, UK, France and Jordan.

US National security spokesman John Kirby told NBC: ‘The president has been clear. We don’t want to see this escalate. We’re not looking for a wider war with Iran.’

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 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.

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.

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.’

It comes after footage was released of the moment Iran began its attack, as the world holds its breath over fears of World War III.

Footage released by Iranian state TV shows huge clouds of smoke and blinding flashes as hundreds of missiles were fired in retaliation to a drone strike at the beginning of April in Syria that killed 12 Iranians, including two top generals.

Warplanes based in Iraq and Syria had been deployed to intercept airborne strikes after Tehran announced it had launched an assault on Saturday.

John Kirby said the U.S. has communicated to Iran ‘what we would do’ if American troops or facilities are targeted amid rising conflict in the Middle East.

‘The president has made it clear: We do not seek a war with Iran. We don’t seek a wider war in the region,’ Kirby told NBC host Kristen Welker Sunday morning.

When pressed by the Meet the Press host on whether Biden has ruled out a direct attack against Iran, Kirby reiterated: ‘We don’t seek a war with Iran.’

He added: ‘We are staying vigilant to exactly that potential threat, but we have not seen any attacks on U.S. troops or personnel in the region or our facilities and nothing to report to this morning. But we’re going to obviously watch that very, very closely.’

The US had sent the war ship Bataan as well as two support ships with 2,500 Marines onboard into the Eastern Mediterranean as part of their response.

US Congressional sources said the amphibious war ship Bataan was leading a US naval task force in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Bataan has two support ships and together they have about 2,500 Marines onboard. The US also has several guided missile destroyers including the Carney in the area.

US fighter jets were also brought in as part of the response, and shot down drones launched towards Israel.

It also came as the latest attempt to reach a ceasefire in the war in Gaza appeared to falter, with Israel accusing Hamas of rejecting a truce proposal.

Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of the UK, France and Germany to question what it slammed as a ‘irresponsible stance’ regarding the strikes on Israel. It follows reports of a number of nations helping to intercept the swarm of missiles Iran fired last night.

The US had sent the war ship Bataan as well as two support ships with 2,500 Marines onboard into the Eastern Mediterranean as part of their response.

US Congressional sources said the amphibious war ship Bataan was leading a US naval task force in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Bataan has two support ships and together they have about 2,500 Marines onboard. The US also has several guided missile destroyers including the Carney in the area.

US fighter jets were also brought in as part of the response, and shot down drones launched towards Israel.

It also came as the latest attempt to reach a ceasefire in the war in Gaza appeared to falter, with Israel accusing Hamas of rejecting a truce proposal.

Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of the UK, France and Germany to question what it slammed as a ‘irresponsible stance’ regarding the strikes on Israel. It follows reports of a number of nations helping to intercept the swarm of missiles Iran fired last night.

Iranians were seen taking to the streets of Tehran with flares and Iranian flags, whooping and cheering as the missiles and drones entered Israeli airspace. 

Surrounding countries appeared to prepare for an escalation in hostilities.

Iraq reopened its airspace on Sunday hours after suspending all air traffic as neighboring Iran launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel, the Iraqi aviation authority announced.

Jordan, which neighbors Iraq as well as Israel, and Lebanon also reopened their respective airspace on Sunday having earlier closed them, as did Israel which said the Iranian attack had been ‘foiled’ with most launches intercepted overnight.

The Iraqi civil aviation authority announced in a statement ‘the reopening of the airspace’ and resumption of flights to and from airports across the country, saying there were no longer any ‘security risks to civilian aircraft’.

Kurdish media in northern Iraq reported that Iranian drones had flown over the autonomous Kurdish region overnight.

Israel, which had closed its airspace on Saturday night in anticipation of the Iranian attack, had reopened it on Sunday morning, the Israeli airports authority said.

Syria is also on high alert, setting up its ground-to-air defense systems around the capital Damascus and major bases in the event of an Israeli strike, army sources said.

Sources said they expected Israel would retaliate against army bases and installations where pro-Iranian militia were based after Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said they launched dozens of drones and missiles against specific targets in Israel.

Qatar and Kuwait have both issued directives against the US prohibiting the use of their airspace for any potential military action against Iran.

US military aircraft are stationed at the Ali Al Salem Air Base and the Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait, as well as the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the largest US airbase in the Middle East.

Egypt’s foreign ministry urged both sides to exercise restraint, saying in a statement: ‘Egypt expresses its deep concern about the indicators of Iranian/Israeli escalation and demands the exercise of the utmost restraint

‘The Arab Republic of Egypt expresses its deep concern regarding the announced launch of Iranian offensive marches against Israel, and the indicators of dangerous escalation between the two countries during the recent period, calling for the exercise of the utmost restraint to spare the region.

‘And its people are more factors for instability and tension.

‘Egypt considers that the dangerous escalation that the Iranian/Israeli arena is currently witnessing is nothing but a direct result of what Egypt has repeatedly warned about, about the dangers of expanding the conflict in the region as a result of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, and the provocative military actions being practiced in the region.

‘Egypt stresses that it is in constant contact with all concerned parties to try to contain the situation, stop the escalation, and spare the region the risk of sliding into a dangerous turn of instability and threat to the interests of its people.’

Iran had threatened to hit back at Israel over an attack in Syria, which Tehran say was an Israeli airstrike on a Iranian diplomatic building in Damascus.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei vowed retribution in the wake of the Damascus attack, for which Tel-Aviv has yet to take responsibility.

The April 1 attack destroyed Iran’s consulate building in the city and killed seven Revolutionary Guards, including the two generals.


Israel’s war cabinet considers whether to ‘go big’ against Iran – despite WW3 fears: Ministers discuss airstrikes and pressure Netanyahu to launch ‘crushing attack’ despite fears of ‘catastrophic escalation’ | 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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