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Israel and Iran Exchange Historical Blows

Updated: May 3

Background

Iran has a network of organizations and paramilitaries it calls the Axis of Resistance. Hamas as well as the Houthi movement in Yemen are members of this axis. Tensions between Iran and Israel have existed for decades but current hostilities date back to 2013 when Iranian soldiers were stationed in Syria to support the Government forces in the Civil War. 

Since then tensions have fluctuated, but they have reached new heights during the current war in Gaza which immediately followed the unprecedented talks between Israel and Iranian rival Saudi Arabia. Since then, Iranian-backed forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen have been belligerent towards U.S. forces in the Levant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The Houthis have also launched missiles and drones at Israel in support of Hamas, which is currently at war with the IDF in Gaza. 



On April 1, Israel conducted an airstrike on the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria's capital. A flight of Israeli F-35s launched six missiles at the embassy, allegedly targeting the residency and consular section of Iranian ambassador Hossein Akbari who survived the strike. It did however kill 16 people, seven of which were high-ranking officials in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a prominent branch of the Iranian Armed Forces. 37 nations as well as the UN Secretary-General condemned the attack. Outraged crowds erupted into city streets across Iran. On April 5 the Iranian government told the U.S. to “step aside” and not get “dragged into Netanyahu’s trap.”

Direct Confrontation

Late on April 13th, Iran launched 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles toward Israel. Most of the munitions were sent from Iran but some were launched in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon along with Hezbollah’s forces. Egypt, Jordan, the United States and the United Kingdom all aided Israel in intercepting drones and missiles. According to Israel, 99% of the munitions launched were intercepted by its Iron Dome defense system, Israeli aircraft or the aforementioned allied forces. 


Israel responded by bombing an Iranian airfield next to its nuclear facilities. Now both nations have attacked one another's soil directly. 


This is an intense escalation in the Israeli-Iranian conflict. The April 13 attack was the first direct attack by Iran against the Jewish State. Amidst the invasion of Gaza and the Red Sea Crisis, this escalation in the war represents a new stage in its development. There will certainly be a tandem response from Iran. The effect it has on the conflict will be contingent on its intensity and its success.

The conflict seems to be escalating at an increased rate. The Biden administration said it would not participate in offensive action against Iran in support of Israel, but that the U.S. would help defend its ally. 


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