The Iranian regime never tires of threatening to destroy Israel. In a 2013 speech, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned in response to Israeli threats of military strikes that the Israeli “cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv would be razed”. In April 2018 the same threat was repeated as part of a more extensive harangue by another Iranian leader: Iran will destroy Israel if it doesn’t stop its “childish game,” a senior military leader in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, said. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
In just the last few days in October, Israel continued tirelessly to “mow the grass” on the Syrian lawn, where it has in the past already attacked Iranian and Hezbollah-connected sites hundreds of times. Iran keeps threatening a terrible vengeance on Israel, but it has not yet managed to land a glove on the Jewish state. Here is some of what Israel has been up to:
In Syria, the IDF conducted an unusual daytime surface-to-surface missile strike in the suburbs of Damascus. Syria claimed that only two of its soldiers were lightly wounded. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which unlike the Syrian government does not lie, said the strike “destroyed a Hezbollah and Iranian weapons and ammunition” convoy heading towards Lebanon, and at least five pro-Iranian fighters were killed and several wounded.
In Iran, Israeli cyberwarriors carried out in mid-October an attack on all of the country’s gas stations; the attack rendered useless the government-issued electronic cards that many Iranians use to buy subsidized fuel at the pump and paralyzed the operations at thousands of stations. The chaos and confusion at the gas stations nationwide lasted for several days, as stations could no longer sell subsidized gas, and drivers found themselves enduring long lines, waiting endlessly to get to the pump, only to discover that they would have to pay the regular – i.e. non-subsidized – price for gasoline, or do without. Iran’s civil defense chief on Saturday, October 30 accused Israel and the United States of being behind that cyberattack that crippled gasoline stations across the country for nearly a week. “We are still unable to say forensically, but analytically I believe it was carried out by the Zionist Regime, the Americans, and their agents,” Gholamreza Jalali, head of civil defense said, Reuters reported. Most observers believe that it was Israel alone that carried out this major act of cyberwarfare.
In recent months, too, Israel carried out airstrikes in Aleppo that targeted Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases, a missile plant, and a weapons convoy. The IDF is particularly interested in destroying precision-guided missiles that the Iranians now manufacture at their bases inside Syria, and which the Revolutionary Guards keep trying to transfer to Hezbollah, so that they can become a deadly part of the terror group’s armory in Lebanon.
Another telling act by the Israeli Air Force has been the escort provided at the end of October by two Israeli F-15s to an American B-1 bomber flying through Israeli airspace. The B-1 bomber is large enough to carry Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOPs) that each weigh 20,000-30,000 pounds; such bombs are large enough to be able to destroy the nuclear facilities that Iran has built deep inside a mountain at Fordow. As of now, the Israeli Air Force has no planes capable of carrying MOPs of that weight. Some military experts believe that Israel has recently managed to manufacture its own MOPs, that weigh only 5,000 pounds, but have the same destructive power as the much heavier — 20,000-30,000 pounds — American MOPs. The B-1 bomber’s appearance in Israeli airspace surely suggests to Tehran two worrisome possibilities. The first is that Washington might provide Israel with a B-1 bomber, in order that the Jewish state’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME), including the ability to destroy Iran’s underground nuclear facilities, will be maintained, as is required by law. The second Is that the “Plan B” that Secretary of State Antony Blinken keeps mentioning may have to be adopted if Iran refuses to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, might mean that America itself could decide to resort to such bombing. That could explain why it chose to send this B-1b Lancer, which has a maximum payload of 75,000 pounds – larger than any other bomber in the American fleet – to the Persian Gulf through Israeli airspace, and with Israeli planes serving as a telling escort. It’s a way to concentrate minds in Tehran.
The Iranian regime never tires of threatening to destroy Israel. In a 2013 speech, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned in response to Israeli threats of military strikes that the Israeli “cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv would be razed”. In April 2018 the same threat was repeated as part of a more extensive harangue by another Iranian leader: Iran will destroy Israel if it doesn’t stop its “childish game,” a senior military leader in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, said. He added that “our fingers are on the trigger, and our missiles are ready at any given moment for launch.”
Ali Shirazi, a cleric and the liaison for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the elite Quds Force, said in 2018 that “Iran has the capability to destroy Israel and given the excuse, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be razed to the ground.”
“The same command [to raze Tel Aviv and Haifa] has turned into a project and will be put into operation,” Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami said on March 7 of this year.
The chief of general staff of Iran’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, issued a fresh warning against Israel on March 16, 2021.
“Iran has acquired what it takes to blow up the Zionist regime,” Bagheri said, adding that the potential “removal of the child-killing, malicious, fake regime from the political geography of the region is no illusion, but rather a genuine power that Iranian forces have gained with resolve and faith.”
Meanwhile, as a series of ripostes to Iran’s series of “I-wants-to-make-your-flesh-creep” (as the Fat Boy in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers liked to say) threats, Israel keeps on with its attacks, undeterred. It has used many different means to slow down Iran’s nuclear project, beginning with the Stuxnet computer worm that in 2010 Israel employed to cause a thousand of Iran’s centrifuges, used to enrich uranium, to speed up and self-destruct. That was followed by the assassination, from 2010 to 2012, of four of Iran’s top nuclear scientists, while they were stuck in Tehran traffic. Then came the theft, by 20 Mossad agents, of Iran’s entire nuclear archive in 2018, which alerted the world to the full extent of Iran’s nuclear program. In 2020, there was the sabotage by Mossad that destroyed the centrifuge plant at Natanz; this was followed in 2021 by the destruction, again by sabotage, of a second Natanz plant that had been built to replace the one that had been destroyed in the previous year – but this second plant was built 50 meters underground and Iran considered it impervious to attack. Nonetheless, the Israelis found a way to destroy it, too.
And in Syria, Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes on Iranian bases, Syrian missile plants, and Hezbollah weapons convoys making their way towards Lebanon. Nothing in Syria — not a Syrian, Iranian, or Hezbollah base — is safe from Israeli planes and missiles.
While Iran lets loose, ever more ferociously, not with its own planes and missiles on targets in Israel, but with threats to “raze” and to “destroy” Israel, it carefully refrains from attacking the Jewish state directly. The only Israeli targets Iran has dared to strike have been far from Israel: in March 2021, an Israeli-owned cargo ship was hit by a missile in the Arabian sea, but little damage was done, and the ship continued to sail. In April 2021 another Israeli-owned ship, the Hyperion Ray, was hit by a missile, but no damage was done. In July 2021, a cargo ship that had previously been owned by an Israeli billionaire, but then had been sold to a non-Israeli buyer, was hit by a drone in the Arabian sea. The ship sustained little or no damage. That’s been the extent of Iran’s “terrible vengeance.” Last I heard, the IDF was still in bombs-away mode over the skies of Syria. And I am pleased to report that Haifa and Tel Aviv are still standing.
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