December 1, 2022 | Middle East Forum

The Quiet War between Israel and Iran

Iran's Hegemonic Drive
December 1, 2022 | Middle East Forum

The Quiet War between Israel and Iran

Iran's Hegemonic Drive

A major war has been underway for a decade in the Middle East though it infrequently makes headlines. Month after month, week after week, and night after night, the Israelis have operated across the region against the Islamic Republic of Iran in what the Israeli government calls “the-war-between-wars” (or “the-campaign-between-wars”).[1]

The genesis of this war is clear. Since the early 1980s, Tehran has financed, armed, and trained terrorist proxies to target Israel. This includes Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and more recently, Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq. Historically, Israel has battled many of these proxies in short but painful border wars. Tehran never paid a price. The Islamist regime preferred this dynamic, and the Israelis never altered the rules of engagement.

But over the last decade, Jerusalem has flipped the script. With the Iranian regime pushing ever closer to a nuclear weapon, the stakes are higher. Concurrently, Tehran is arming its proxies with increasingly lethal and precise weapons while striving to deploy them closer to Israel’s borders in a strategy of encirclement. With no other options, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have aggressively struck Iranian and Iran-backed targets. What began as an ad-hoc series of operations has evolved into a full-fledged campaign.

The individual strikes of this campaign, often conducted without attribution, were initially designed to forestall regional conflagration. Eroding the capabilities of Iran and its proxies, Israeli officials reasoned, would prevent the axis from placing sufficient assets in advantageous locations to launch a coordinated assault. As Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “Sometimes the use of force, and a demonstration of it, is able to prevent the need for a stronger use of force.”[2]

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Issues:

Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel