The Irish Times view on Iran’s attack on Israel: a dangerous new dynamic

Its successful repulsion of the waves of drones and the very limited damage done are ample demonstration of Israel’s military strength

The shadow war is no more. The April 1st attack on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus - widely attributed to Israel – has, as expected, triggered a retaliation. Iran launched a massive direct attack on Israel, aided by its Hezbollah and Houthi proxies in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, involving drones, cruise missiles and surface-to-surface missiles. Hezbollah also launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at an Israeli barracks in the Golan Heights, while Iranian commandos seized an Israeli flagged container ship in the Gulf of Oman.

Although successfully repulsed, the first direct attack on Israel by Iran has brought a dangerous new dynamic to the long-simmering conflict between the two countries, with US, British, French and Jordanian air defence forces now drawn in to defending Israel. Until recently hostilities had been maintained at arm’s length, using Iranian proxies or targeted assassinations by Israel of Iranian military leaders and nuclear scientists. Now the risk is of a wider conflict in the region.

Whether and how Israel now responds is critical. Once again Israel’s allies, the US and UK, having demonstrated their willingness to stand by it, are desperately pleading with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stay his hand and avoid further tit-for-tat retaliation, particularly if provocative targets on Iranian soil are being considered.

Iran insists that “the mission is accomplished and the operation is over and we have no intentions of going further.” But Israeli retaliation would, it warned, prompt further, “much larger” attacks.


Israel would do well to show restraint. Its successful repulsion of the waves of drones and the very limited damage done are ample demonstration of its military strength. Its immediate boast of the support it received from allies is testimony to the strength of its alliances, despite the recent public spats with Washington. Revenge should not be part of the calculation.

Netanyahu, however, dangerously driven by personal and domestic political considerations, has shown himself reluctant to listen to allies’ entreaties. Israel has promised to “do what is necessary” in response.

Meanwhile, the threat of what would be a devastating all-out assault on Rafah, opposed by all the country’s allies and the UN, remains on the agenda, while talks on a humanitarian ceasefire stumble on. Israel has said that Hamas rejected the latest proposals.

If Israel expects its allies’ support at this critical time, then it must hear them. The risk of a wider regional war in the Middle East is now real. The Iranian attack has dangerously upped the ante, with world leaders and the UN all trying to avoid further escalation. Only restraint now on all sides can avoid the situation deteriorating further.