Analysis / Iranian Assault on Israel: 4 Perspectives

Iran attacks Israel (Archive:

Iran launched a massive assault on Israel this week, firing over 300 missiles and drones from several directions. This was the single largest attack of this type in history. 

However, the results of Iran’s action were unimpressive. Israel, with the help of a US-led coalition, intercepted nearly all incoming threats. A few ballistic missiles did hit, causing minor damage to the Nevatim airbase in southern Israel.  

Tehran’s calculations: The Iranians aimed to maximize noise while minimizing scope. Tehran showed off massive firepower but mostly aimed at two military bases. The Tel Aviv and Haifa areas were not targeted at all.

The Iranian attack was no doubt serious, but it seems that Tehran wanted to make a loud statement while limiting potential Israeli retaliation. It is possible that Iran’s calculations were accurate, and that Israel’s response will be measured.

Limits of Iran’s grand strategy: The Iranian assault again exposed the limits of Tehran’s rings of fire strategy against Israel. Journalist Amir Bar-Shalom wrote that Tehran expected more dramatic action from Lebanon, but Hezbollah only fired a rocket barrage with little impact. In Gaza, Hamas is no longer able to contribute much to Iran’s plans.

On paper, the Iranians surrounded Israel with proxies. In practice, mobilizing all of them at any given time is tricky, depending on specific conditions and calculations.

Israel-Iran economic battle: The attack’s financial costs for Israel were far higher than for Iran. An IDF officer cited by Ynet estimated the direct cost of blocking the Iranian assault at over $1 billion, mostly due to expansive interceptors and the mobilization of fighter jets.

However, if it wishes, Israel can impose devastating costs on the Iranian economy with well-aimed military action. This will be particularly true in any prolonged conflict. Ultimately, this is a dangerous game for Tehran to play.

Long-term impact unknown: The Israel-Iran conflict entered a new phase last night. The results of this phase will only become clear in months or years. Iran’s assault can’t be separated from its long-term effects, which remain unknown and speculative at this time.