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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Redefining the Israel-Iran Dynamic: Tehran Now Reverses its “Strategic Patience”

Filed under: Iran, Operation Swords of Iron

Redefining the Israel-Iran Dynamic: Tehran Now Reverses its “Strategic Patience”
Missiles loaded on trucks during the Army Day parade in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. At the parade, President Ebrahim Raisi warned that the “tiniest invasion” by Israel would bring a “massive and harsh” response. The banner on the truck reads in Farsi: “Surface-to-surface Nazeat precision missile.” (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran has declared the adoption of a new approach in its relationship with Israel, marking the end of the “strategic patience” policy initiated by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The conflict between Israel and Iran has entered a new phase, posing a challenge to Israel’s policies. Israel cannot acquiesce to Iran’s new approach, which seeks to constrain its freedom of military action in the Middle East.

Iran has been disseminating false information regarding the outcome of its military strike on Israel on April 13, 2024, referred to as “the real promise,” portraying it as a significant “victory.” In reality, it was a significant military achievement for Israel.

This pattern is not new. The Iranian regime seeks military achievements to boast about, particularly after facing repeated setbacks at the hands of Israel, including operations conducted by the IDF and the Israeli Mossad.

These include the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a key figure in Iran’s nuclear program; targeted killings of senior officers in the Revolutionary Guards; the retrieval of the Iranian nuclear archive from Tehran; the destruction of many drones in their Kermanshah factory; and the recent assassination of IRGC-Al Qods commander General Mohammad Reza Zahedi in Damascus.

There are numerous additional Israeli clandestine achievements on Iranian soil.

Responding to mounting internal criticism within Iran, including from its supporters and hawkish senior officers within the Revolutionary Guards, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has opted to alter Iran’s strategy towards Israel and discontinue the policy of containment.

Khamenei draws encouragement from what he perceives as the weakening and fragmentation of Israeli society, coupled with the contentious relations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden.

He views this as an opportune moment to act against Israel.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi issued a warning that “the slightest action against Iran’s interests will definitely be met with a severe, extensive, and painful response.”

The Iranian regime’s newfound confidence, stemming from Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state nearing nuclear weapons capability, emboldens Khamenei to adopt a bolder stance towards Israel.

Iran’s Chief of Staff, Mohammad Bakri, announced on April 14 that Iran had conveyed a warning to Washington, through Switzerland, that it would target American bases in the region if Israel launched a military strike against Iran.

Meanwhile, Revolutionary Guards Commander General Hossein Salami disclosed that Iran has revised its approach towards Israel, introducing a new equation: “Any harm inflicted by Israel on Iran’s interests, officials, or citizens will be met with a retaliatory attack on Israel from Iranian territory,” he stated in an interview with Iranian television.

This revised Iranian policy presents Israel with a weighty military dilemma. Will it persist in targeting Iranian assets in the Middle East, such as in Iraq and Syria, as it has done in recent years, despite the risk of Iranian retaliation on Israeli soil?

What course of action will Israel take if it possesses credible intelligence regarding arms transfers from Syria to Hizbullah in Lebanon or plans by senior members of the Revolutionary Guards to launch an attack? Will it refrain from further military strikes?

In essence, Iran seeks to leverage its military strike on Israel on April 13 to establish a new deterrence policy against Israel.

Effectively, the new Iranian approach signifies the end of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s “strategic patience” policy.

The conflict between Israel and Iran has entered a critical juncture that poses a formidable challenge to Israel.

Israel cannot afford to accept Iran’s new approach, which aims to curtail its freedom of military action in the Middle East, essential for safeguarding its vital security interests.

Moreover, Iranians are also issuing threats against American interests in the region, likely in a bid to pressure the Biden administration to restrain Israel’s military activities.

Given this scenario, a new round of hostilities between Israel and Iran appears inevitable.