Iran's attack: has Israel responded?

In the wake of the Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel the situation in the Middle East remains tense. US President Joe Biden had urged Israel to show restraint. On Friday, there were explosions at an airbase in the Iranian region of Isfahan. Israel has not commented on speculation that this was an attack. Europe's press weighs up the situation.

Open/close all quotes (UA) /

Back to proxy war

Political scientist Iliya Kusa writes in that the escalation in the Middle East is coming to an end:

“The Netanyahu government may have agreed to a de-escalation in exchange for the green light from the US for a military operation in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. ... Israeli strikes against Iranian proxies will maintain the usual format of strikes against Iranian positions, so one should expect them to continue and intensify in Syria and Lebanon. So it's back to the format of a proxy war, which has proven to be extremely convenient and favourable for all sides.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Israel has lost

Netanyahu has failed to achieve his goals, writer Tahar Ben Jelloun explains in La Repubblica:

“In the conflict between Hamas and Israel, we know that Netanyahu is tough, that he listens to no one, and that he's waging a war that runs counter to common sense. He's keeping the war going because sooner or later he will have to answer to his country's judiciary and will no doubt end up in prison. ... But Netanyahu has lost this war. ... He has not achieved his goal of eradicating Hamas. Objectively speaking, one can say that Hamas has won the war. ... It has succeeded in putting the Palestinian cause back on the international stage and evoking the world's support and solidarity.”

Expresso (PT) /

The West's influence is waning

The Middle East is increasingly developing its own dynamic, Expresso comments:

“We still tend to think that Washington and Brussels greatly influence Israeli and Arab decisions. In reality, however, this influence has been waning since the turn of the century. Israel is a good example of this regional trend. The Persian Gulf monarchies and Iran are increasingly looking to the Indian Ocean and Asia as models for their own development. This will only be possible with peace, and perhaps with a regional order that is less dependent on Washington than the current one. The attacks on Damascus and Israel could accelerate this whole process.”

Delfi (LT) /

Several options

Delfi writes:

“Israel is facing the temptation to destroy Iran's nuclear complexes. ... A less sensitive target would be Iran's drone factories, which would already be good news for Ukraine and a nuisance for Russia. ... Overall, the situation is favourable for Ukraine because Iran and Russia are positioning themselves as aggressors while Israel and Ukraine are countries that are exposed to air strikes. ... The attack on 13 April is confirmation for Washington that Israel was just as justified in its warnings as Lithuania was in its warnings about Russian aggression. ... Israel could also give in to Washington and not retaliate, but as a quid pro quo silence US criticism and eliminate Hamas in Rafah.”

Le Point (FR) /

Israel must react

Iran's attack must not go unpunished, warns philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy in Le Point:

“Let's imagine that Iran does not see the attack as a disastrous failure, but as a kind of dress rehearsal. And let's assume that it repeats this rehearsal in six months, in a year, as soon as it has the technology to equip its drones and missiles with operational nuclear warheads. This is a frightening prospect and an existential threat for Israel and the entire region. That's why the sense of 'cowardly relief' that prevails among Israel's allies strikes me as unreasonable. ... Iran has declared war. Regrettably, there is no choice but to react.”

Abbas Gallyamov (RU) /

Do not jeopardise this unexpected support

The mood has changed in Israel, reports political scientist Abbas Gallyamov, who lives there, on Facebook:

“A survey by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem showed that Israelis are very happy with the unexpected constellation that has emerged, in which a whole coalition of allies - from the US to neighbouring Arab states - helped them to fend off an enemy attack. They don't want to jeopardise this still fragile structure. 74 percent of respondents to a survey say that they are against the idea of a retaliatory strike if it would damage the new alliance. ... Normally public opinion in Israel is far more aggressive: the majority calls for an attack. ... But not in this case: it feels too good to suddenly no longer be alone but among allies.”

El País (ES) /

Stable Arab-Atlantic alliance as the solution

El País advises stopping the war and strengthening alliances:

“To defend itself so successfully against Iranian airstrikes, Israel needed a broad coalition with the US, France and Britain, as well as the covert participation of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. ... Nothing would strengthen this ensemble now more than an end to the war and the resumption of the peace process. ... A stable Arab-Atlantic alliance would be more of a deterrent than any Israeli military response against Iran and would be the strongest insurance policy against war in the region. It would deter without causing an escalation. Even in the worst of circumstances there is a way out, you just have to find it and use it.”

Cyprus Mail (CY) /

A charade with side effects

The situation won't escalate, commentator Gwynne Dyer writes in the Cyprus Mail:

“There will be no bigger war - at least, not for now - although Netanyahu still has some cards to play. Well done, everybody. But there is one unforeseen consequence of this elaborate charade. Iran now looks like a paper tiger, at least to the general public at home and elsewhere. ... The main cost of this operation is that it lets Netanyahu claim a great success and divert public attention from the appalling situation in the Gaza Strip. Even the artificial famine now devastating the territory will be ignored for a while. However, a real war between the United States and Iran would have been far worse. Sufficient unto the day...”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Four options

Jutarnji list discusses how Israel could proceed:

“Iran's nuclear facilities are well defended and buried under a mountain in Natanz. A failed attack would bring down Netanyahu and [Defence Minister Yoav] Galant. ... The second option is an attack on Iranian commanders, the army or places inside or outside Iran, which carries fewer risks but will also have less resonance among the Israeli population. The third option would be to intensify attacks on Hezbollah and other Iranian military vassals in Syria and Iraq, or a cyber attack on Iran. The fourth option would be an attack on the Houthis in Yemen, which the US would support despite having said that it would not participate in an Israeli response.” (UA) /

Counterattack would be illogical

All sides should be satisfied with the current state of affairs, concludes:

“Logic dictates that there will be no continuation of the 'billion dollar attack' [referring to the cost of fending off the Iranian drones]. Iran has flexed its muscles and convinced itself that it has saved face. The US has seen that its security architecture in the Middle East is more or less effective. Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Iraq have proved that they are closer to the US and Israel than to the fanatics in Tehran.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

US calming the hotheads on both sides

Radio Kommersant FM praises the White House for its policy of de-escalation:

“Moscow is used to accusing Washington of trying to destabilise the situation in the region and sow chaos there which at first seems manageable but then gets out of control - which is what defines chaos. ... However, if we are objective we must admit that this time the US government is the most important stabilising factor and is doing all it can (so far successfully) to calm the hotheads in Tehran and Jerusalem. ... For the West, the ideal scenario would be mutual satisfaction, with both sides declaring victory and in that way ending the current round of confrontation. Iran has made it clear that it is prepared to do this - now everything depends on Israel's position.”

Eleftheros Typos (GR) /

Biden now holds the reins

Eleftheros Typos pins its hope on the US:

“With the attack on Damascus, the Israeli prime minister wanted to provoke an exaggerated reaction from Tehran in order to force the West to give him unconditional support. He succeeded to a certain extent, given that the operation to intercept Iranian drones and missiles involved not only the US, Britain, France and Germany, but also Jordan. .... Now Netanyahu must show that he is not seeking escalation simply to rally divided public opinion in his own country, which holds him primarily responsible for the hostage drama and the international condemnation of the Jewish state. The Europeans will do what Biden tells them to, and he has a duty to force Netanyahu to stop here. Our security depends on it.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Diplomacy will achieve more than military action

For Corriere della Sera the appropriate course of action is clear:

“The idea that the Iranian Ayatollahs are capable politicians and great strategists was shattered on Saturday night. Israel was about to lose the Gaza war, but now it has the initiative once more and can reap the benefits of international solidarity. ... If Netanyahu does decide to take revenge, he would basically be throwing away the advantage he has unexpectedly secured. It is diplomacy and political skill that are needed now to build on the new situation and further isolate Iran - together with Washington, the Arab countries that are considered moderate, London and Paris.”

Habertürk (TR) /

The storm could erupt in neighbouring countries

Commenting in Habertürk, journalist Nagehan Alçı warns of a proxy war in Lebanon:

“All eyes are on Iran and Israel, but it could be in Lebanon where the real chaos breaks out. I don't just mean that Israel will attack Lebanon. Based on past developments Israel could wage proxy wars and instead of targeting Iran directly turn its attention to the Lebanese Hezbollah. But the problem in Lebanon is not just the external threat. The situation is so inflamed internally that in the event of another civil war it would explode just like the Israeli bombs and become a dangerous catalyst in the triangle between Syria, Iran and Israel.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Netanyahu has already won, but...

Le Figaro weighs up the situation:

“Benjamin Netanyahu's government could content itself with an overwhelming military and diplomatic victory: not only Washington, but also London, Paris and even Amman have rushed to its aid. ... But the affront of the direct attack remains; Iran's assumed position as an irreconcilable enemy of Israel and the persistence of this perceived existential threat. Israel may see this as an opportunity which increases the legitimacy of an attack on Iranian territory, and in particular on the facilities of its military nuclear programme. ... Has the risk-benefit ratio shifted sufficiently for Netanyahu to give in to this old temptation?”

Observator Cultural (RO) /

Avoid a conflagration

Matei Martin, editor-in-chief of the weekly Observator Cultural, hopes that Israel will exercise restraint:

“From the American perspective, another Israeli strike against Iran harbours the danger that the war, which until now has largely been confined to the Gaza Strip, will escalate into a regional conflagration. Despite Washington's attempts to de-escalate, an Israeli response cannot be ruled out – in fact, Israeli hardliners say it is unavoidable. ... The Israeli ambassador to the UN invoked the 'right to retaliation' two days after the attack. But wasn't international law created precisely because world peace is unachievable if everyone insists on the right to retaliate?”

Financial Times (GB) /

Security requires de-escalation

Israel should listen to the US and make a point of isolating Iran and Hamas, the Financial Times advises:

“It requires Israel to agree to a ceasefire in the besieged strip and secure the release of Israeli hostages. It also envisages giving Palestinians a political horizon, with concrete steps towards the establishment of a Palestinian state. In return, Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, would normalise relations with Israel. That would lay the foundations for a US-backed, Israeli-Arab security coalition of the sort that Israel has long desired. ... Israel's security, and the alliances it needs, cannot be forged if it does not wind down a Gaza war.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Clear conflict of interests for Israeli government

La Stampa also sees Israel's interests best served by a coalition with the Arab states, but points out:

“This strategic interest clashes with Netanyahu's tactical interest in delaying or avoiding his own political downfall. He therefore seems more inclined to continue supporting the Israeli ultra-right, for whom the possibility of a Palestinian state is anathema. And the decision as to how to resolve this dilemma will largely determine the chances of containing Iran's designs in the region.”

Der Spiegel (DE) /

There must be consequences

Der Spiegel takes issue with all the exhortations for Israel to exercise restraint:

“They ignore the fact that Iran (and Hezbollah) fired only a fraction of their dangerous ballistic missiles in the attack. A future attack could be far more powerful. If only to limit this threat - not to mention the nuclear one - Israel will be obliged to launch a counterattack that makes it clear to the Iranian leadership that Saturday night has consequences. How, when, with what target and by what means will be the big questions in the coming weeks.”

Trouw (NL) /

Penalise risky response

The West must exert pressure on Israel, demands Trouw:

“It is time for Biden to make military aid for Israel contingent on tough conditions. The West has shown great understanding for Israel's demands and wishes, but sadly this is not being reciprocated. As a sovereign country, Israel has the right to chart its own course, but the same principle applies to the West. So if Israel decides to carry out risky operations again, turning a deaf ear to its allies' advice, it must be prepared to face the consequences alone - and without Western help.”

Kauppalehti (FI) /

Consequences for the global economy

What Israel does now will also have consequences for Europe's energy supply, writes Kauppalehti:

“Unofficially, Iran has announced that its massive missile and drone attack marks the end of this series of retaliatory strikes, but it is by no means certain that Israel will take the same view. ... Iran is currently the fourth largest oil producer in Opec. ... Israel could launch a retaliatory attack on Iran's energy infrastructure, which could affect global oil supplies, prices and, above all, the Eurozone economy on a scale that goes beyond Iran's importance as an oil producer.”