Iran vs Israel

The Lebanese Al-Akhbar, affiliated with Hezbollah, has reported that Iran told Washington that it would refrain from retaliation if there is a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel does not attack the southern Gaza city of Rafah.
Keywords: Iran, Israel, War, Ceasefire, Conflict, Retaliation, Hezbollah, Refrain
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Iranian diplomacy is a fine balance between audacity and caution, which is how Tehran survived decades of US hostility and sanctions. It is therefore not surprising that Tehran did not rush to fire missiles at Tel Aviv after the April 1, 2024 attack on its consulate in Damascus, Syria, which took the lives of 16 persons, including Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a senior Quds Force commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and seven other IRGC officers. Bewildered at the delay, Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin mused,  “Observing with perplexity Iranian procrastination” (Apr 08, 2024).

Calibrating its moves carefully, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held separate telephone conversations with his Saudi, Iraqi, and United Arab Emirates counterparts on April 10 evening, and he urged them to put pressure on Israel to end the massacre of Palestinians, especially in Gaza. Early on April 11, the US Middle East envoy Brett McGurk called the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Iraq and asked them to urge Iran to lower tensions with Israel.

Within Israel, however, the newspaper Haaretz wrote, “It shouldn’t be said, but there is no choice, we have completely failed. The objectives of the war will not be achieved, prisoners will not return under military pressure, security will not return, and international hostility and isolation will not disappear. We failed and that’s reality.”

Visiting Damascus, the Iranian foreign minister asserted, “The coming days will be difficult days for Israel, and I say it loudly from Damascus” (April 10, 2024). Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran has communicated to the US, through diplomatic channels (most likely Oman), that it is responsible for backing Israel, and has informed all countries that Israel has crossed all red lines and that punishment is certain. Ayatollah Khamenei had already vowed to ‘punish’ Israel for the Damascus strike. As a precaution, Israel evacuated 28 embassies in countries considered unsafe. Tel Aviv reversed its GPS to limit Iran’s ability to launch missile strikes against Israeli targets. But the risk of escalation remains. 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Foreign Minister Israel Katz in turn threatened (April 10) that if Iran launched an attack from its soil, then Israel would strike back at targets inside Iran.

The London-based Elaph News on April 9 cited an anonymous “Western security official” as saying that Israel is preparing to target Iranian nuclear facilities and other key infrastructures in such an eventuality. The Lebanese Al-Akhbar, affiliated with Hezbollah, has reported that Iran told Washington that it would refrain from retaliation if there is a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel does not attack the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has meanwhile announced that the date to attack Rafah has been decided.

Washington believes that Tehran may ask friendly forcess like the Houthis, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq to respond, to avoid a direct confrontation with the United States. Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate as a member of its elite Radwan forces was killed by Israel in an air raid in the eastern city of Baalbek, after Hezbollah shot down an Israeli drone. A senior advisor of Ayatollah Khamenei, Yahya Rahim Safavi, warned that Israeli embassies were “no longer safe.”

Speaking in Beirut on “Quds Day” (April 5), 2024, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called the attack on the Iranian consulate a “turning point.” In a pointed message to Israel, he said, “We have not used the main weapons nor the main forces and we have not called in the reserves.” Observers believe this was a signal to Washington to rein in Tel Aviv.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Cairo to discuss a possible ceasefire (April 9, 2024) and proposed a deal whereby Hamas would release 40 hostages held in Gaza in return for a six-week ceasefire, and Israel releasing 900 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas responded that it would discuss the new US proposal “in a responsible manner” and convey its response to the Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

But on April 10, 2024, three sons (Hazem, Amir, and Muhammad) and four grandchildren (Mona, Amal, Khaled and Razan) of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an air strike on Gaza City’s Al-Shati Camp. In a statement to Al Jazeera, Haniyeh said, “The enemy will be delusional if it thinks that targeting my sons, at the climax of the [ceasefire] negotiations and before the movement sends its response, will push Hamas to change its position.”

Tel Aviv’s relentless offensive led to the targeted killing of seven aid workers from the NGO World Central Kitchen in Gaza, including one American and three Britons, on April 7, 2024. Faced with international outrage, Israel claimed the first air strike was due to mistaken identity while the second and third were “grave” mistakes. However, observers said the strikes were to stop food and aid from entering Gaza where 33,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have already died in six months of bombing, which has destroyed all hospitals in the Strip. The UN has accused Israel of using hunger as a “weapon of war.” The Crisis Group warned that Israel’s campaign in Gaza has pushed many to the edge of death from starvation and disease.

After a telephone call between Prime Minister Netanyahu and US President Biden, the Israeli War Cabinet on April 4, 2024, announced that it would open the Erez border crossing and the port of Ashdod for humanitarian aid into Gaza. But as of this writing, both remained closed, according to Juliette Touma, director of communications for the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

Earlier, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an ‘an immediate ceasefire’ during the month of Ramadan (March 25, 2024), the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, citing “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza (Washington abstained). As Israel ignored the UNSC resolutions and International Court of Justice (ICJ) rulings, Washington said the UNSC resolution is non-binding, making a mockery of international law.

The UN Human Rights Council on April 5, 2024, adopted a resolution calling for Israel to be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Gaza Strip (28 in favour, 13 abstentions, and 06 opposed, including the US and Germany). However, the US conceded that Israel had not done enough to mitigate harm to civilians. Michèle Taylor, US permanent representative to the Council, said, “in just six months, more humanitarians have been killed in this conflict than in any war of the modern era.”

In later resolutions, the Council endorsed the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and denounced Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and in the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967. It said these endangered the viability of an eventual Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Norway condemned the bombing of the Iranian consulate while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plans to encourage Norway, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Belgium to recognise the State of Palestine. The new Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris openly admonished Netanyahu saying, “Allow me to convey to you the position of the Irish people. And it is very clear: what you are doing disgusts us. Cease fire immediately and allow humanitarian aid to pass through.”

Meanwhile, on April 9, 2024, Palestine’s quest to be a full member of the United Nations was checked by the US which asserted it should be admitted as a full member at the end of a peace process with Israel, giving Tel Aviv a virtual veto on Palestine’s UN membership.

Natural gas

A little-noticed aspect of the ethnic cleansing in Gaza relates to Israel’s desire to monopolise the natural gas deposits found off the Mediterranean coast. In November 2023, soon after the hostilities began (October 7, 2023), Israel granted 12 exploration licenses to six companies, including the UK’s BP, Korean subsidiary Dana Petroleum, Italy’s Eni, and Israel’s Ratio Energies (RATIp.TA), to explore gas deposits lying under the maritime jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, in blatant violation of international law.

Golan Heights

Soon after the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Moscow announced it was moving auxiliary forces to the Syrian Golan Heights (April 3, 2024) and requested a meeting with the UN Security Council. Just before the special military operation in Ukraine in February 2022, Russia’s deputy ambassador to Geneva told the UN Security Council that “Russia doesn’t recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights that are part of Syria.”


A far deeper impact of the war is the ecocide of natural ecosystems in Gaza, which could make the land uninhabitable for years, even generations. In March 2024, Forensic Architecture reported that over 2,000 agricultural sites, including farms and greenhouses, have been destroyed in Gaza since October 2023. Nearly half of the trees in Gaza have been razed. International humanitarian law (IHL) prohibits warfare that may cause “widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment”. However, having dropped over 65,000 tonnes of bombs on the Gaza Strip, Israel seems unable to stop.


  1. Despite Israel’s commitment to Biden, the Erez crossing into Gaza remains closed to aid. El Paîs, April 9, 2024.
  2. Israel’s Provocative Attack On Iranian Consulate: A Dangerous Escalation In Middle East, Eurasia Review, April 9, 2024.
  3. Israel evacuates embassies in many nations after Iran’s ‘slap’ warning, Times of India, April 5, 2024.
  4. Israel awards licences to UK’s BP, Italy’s Eni to explore gas deposits, Middle East Monitor, November 3, 2023.
  5. Gaza: Security Council passes resolution demanding ‘an immediate ceasefire’ during Ramadan, UN News, March 25, 2024.,with%20the%20United%20States%20abstaining
  6. UN body demands Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes, Reuters, April 5, 2024.,as%20a%20%22distorted%20text%22.
  7. The Silent Victim of Israel’s War on Gaza, April 3, 2024.,the%20natural%20environment%20in%20Gaza.
  8. A message to Israel? Russia deploys more forces in Syria’s Golan Heights, Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2024.
  9. Eyewitnesses say that Al-Shifa Hospital was completely destroyed and has become a graveyard, Edited by Ed Newman, April 4, 2024.
  10. Alexander Dugin (@Agdchan), Apr 08, 2024.
  1. Blinken says Hamas should accept “serious” Gaza hostage and ceasefire deal, Axios, April 9, 2024.
  2. Israel threatens ‘powerful response’ in Iran’s territory if it attacks from own soil, Times of Israel, April 10, 2024.
  3. How Iran might retaliate for suspected Israeli strike on its Damascus embassy building, Arab News, April 9, 2024.
  4. Hezbollah leader ups ante after attack on Iranian consulate, Responsible Statecraft, April 9, 2024.
  5. Iran FM talks with several regional counterparts on phone, IRNA, April 11, 2024.
  1. US envoy asked Middle East foreign ministers to mediate with Iran, Reuters, April 11, 2024.’s%20foreign%20ministry%20said%20on,were%20first%20reported%20by%20Axios.
  1. Israel’s Military ‘Maneuver’ in Gaza Was a Pointless Success, Haaretz, April 10, 2024.
  1. Israel-Gaza war: Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says three sons killed in air strike
  2. BBC News, April 10, 2024.

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Sandhya Jain

Sandhya Jain is a political analyst, independent researcher, and author of multiple books. She is also editor of the platform Vijayvaani

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