Until last month’s inauguration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was surrounded by security chiefs who opposed unilateral action against Iran. He now finds himself freed from obstruction by the current heads of the Mossad, Israel Security Agency (ISA), and the Chief of Staff of the IDF. His closest aides, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and his director of the National Security Council, Tzachi Hanegbi, a former minister and former head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee, are all for an aggressive policy against Iran and its regional legions.
At the inauguration of the new Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevy, Netanyahu declared that there was no longer any hesitation regarding the Iranian danger that had to be neutralized. The decision was made to prevent Iran from reaching the nuclear threshold and acquiring a nuclear bomb. Netanyahu wants to save Israel from this threat. He expects a military response from the IDF, and this response will depend on the budgets allocated for the army and coordination with the United States, which should guarantee and protect the rear of the Israeli attacking forces.
There is no longer a “maybe.” There is now only the question of “when” and “how long” it will take to prepare for this eventuality. According to Netanyahu, there is no need to even wait for Iran to succeed in reaching the nuclear threshold. Netanyahu evoked the scenario of a preemptive strike that would destroy all Iranian nuclear facilities and call into question the entire Iranian nuclear program.
The Military Threats to Israel
Israeli leaders are aware that such a scenario could escalate into an all-out war in which Israel will have to face several fronts:
- Salvos of precision-guided ballistic missiles shot from outside of Iranian territory, as well as swarms of drones launched from Iran that would attack strategic sites in Israel.
- A Hizbullah offensive from Lebanese territory, possibly including attacks on Israel’s natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Coordinated attacks by Iranian militias on the Golan/Syria front.
- A Palestinian uprising in the territories of the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, and from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, while unleashing domestic instability inside Israel by encouraging subversive actions by Arab circles within Israel.
- Houthi participation in Yemen’s armed conflict with Israel.
- Israel should expect Israeli ships to be attacked in the Persian Gulf and off the coast of Arabia, as well as possible terrorist attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia carried out by Iranian-backed operatives.
This Netanyahu government, his sixth, is ready for such a scenario, provided it is certain that it can neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat permanently.
Having said that, Netanyahu will not take such a decision without giving notice to the United States, even though Israel can act alone and surprise its American ally. In parallel, Netanyahu could also try to form an anti-Iranian alliance with Israel’s direct Arab neighbors and others who are partners in the Abraham Accords and potential Iranian targets. Such an alliance could provide Israel with strategic support when it comes to attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Seventy-five years after its founding, Israel’s existence is again threatened, this time by a non-Arab enemy which is trying to mobilize Arab and non-Arab entities to fight Israel. The ultimate dream of Israel’s founding fathers of living in peace is still far from being realized.