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

The Iranian Response Will Come

Filed under: Iran

The Iranian Response Will Come
The moment of the explosion at an Isfahan military facility. (Screen grab from WANA – Iran)
  • The Iranian leadership decided to respond to alleged Israeli attacks in Iran and Syria, and the preparations for the Iranian response have started.
  • It is estimated that the Iranians will try to hit Israeli targets abroad or carry out attacks on Israeli targets using missiles and drones fired by its militias in the Middle East.
  • Meanwhile, Iran is watching unprecedented cooperation and talks between American and Israeli policy-makers and military exercises.

On January 30, 2023, Israeli drones allegedly attacked Iranian convoys carrying advanced weapons from Iran to Syria.

Drones of the Israeli Air Force attacked convoys three times in recent days and destroyed trucks carrying advanced weapons. Eleven were killed in the attacks.

At the same time, the Israeli Mossad allegedly attacked a military complex in the center of the city of Isfahan where the production and research of missiles and drones are carried out. The attack was carried out using short-range quadcopter drones, “Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs),” according to Iran’s ministry of defense, which carried explosives and crashed into the targets.

According to American and Israeli sources, the operation was successful and frustrated the Iranians because it occurred at the same time as the messages the United States sent through Qatar to Iran about its willingness to resume negotiations on the nuclear deal.

Israel is tight-lipped and has neither confirmed nor denied the attacks. Iran has suffered a public humiliation, Israel’s attacks received extensive international coverage, and the world did not buy the Iranian claim that it thwarted the attack on the military compound in Isfahan and that the damage caused was minimal.

It seems that the Israeli establishment chose the target carefully: it is a military compound and not a nuclear facility, indicating that Israel also fears Iran’s conventional capabilities in the field of missiles and drones and not only its nuclear capabilities.

The drone attack on the military compound in Isfahan was late at night. Israel had no intention of harming the lives of Iranian scientists or senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards. The short-range quadcopter drones suggest that they were launched nearby inside Iran.

Israel also fears that Iran will develop hypersonic missiles, currently in the arsenals of Russia, China, and North Korea, with whom Iran maintains close relations.

Hypersonic missiles fly at Mach-5, five times the speed of sound, have a low trajectory, and have an unpredictable flight path. According to experts, such missiles may represent a threat to Israel’s air defense system. Israel is working to counter the threat with a new Arrow-4 anti-ballistic missile and, reportedly, a high-energy laser.

IAI, Israel MOD and the U.S. MDA announce the development of Arrow-4 2-44
An announcement for the Arrow-4 published in February 2021. (

Iranian sources claim that the United States and Israel use a carrot-and-stick method: Israel uses the stick and hits Iran, while the United States uses the carrot and shows a desire to negotiate with Iran.

Iranian Patience

Iranian sources say that Iran’s response to the Israeli attacks is only a matter of time. Iran has patience, and every Israeli attack is recorded in the Iranian ledger.

In the past two years, Iran has strengthened its air defense systems following Israel’s attacks on the facilities in Karaj and Kermanshah and moved some of its military factories to protected buildings.

It is believed that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has already ordered the Revolutionary Guards to prepare the Iranian response to the Israeli attacks and that the preparations are underway and will take some time.

These are several of the scenarios for an Iranian response:

  1. Attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets abroad.
  2. Launching precision-guided missiles and drones from Iranian territory toward Israeli targets at sea (such as gas rigs in the Mediterranean) and on land.
  3. An Iranian missile or drone attack on targets in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where the Iranians claim that a base of the Israeli Mossad operates.
  4. Launching of missiles and drones by the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen toward Israeli targets.

Clear Message to Iran

In an unprecedented show of strength, the U.S. and Israeli armed forces launched the Juniper Oak exercise in January, deploying ships, aircraft, artillery, and cyber weapons.

Exercise Juniper Oak 2023-2
The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group sails in formation with the Israeli Navy during exercise Juniper Oak 2023-2, Jan. 24, 2023. Juniper Oak 23-2 was a bilateral military exercise, led by U.S. Central Command and the Israel Defense Forces, designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and Israeli militaries. Juniper Oak 23-2 joins the long-standing “Juniper” series that the U.S. and Israel have conducted for more than 20 years. (U.S. Navy)

Iran is also worried about the visits of senior American government officials to Israel: Jack Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, William Burns, the head of the CIA, and Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden are expected to meet in Washington next month.

The Iranian assessment is that this indicates Israeli-American military coordination and that an escalation in Israel’s military activity against Iran is expected, and Iran should prepare accordingly.