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Israeli press review: Israel warned against attacking Iran

Former defence officials and columnists warn that by pursuing Iran, Netanyahu's government risks weakening Israel's security and could hasten its own collapse
An Israeli soldier takes up a position in front of a battery of an Iron Dome air defence system near Jerusalem on 15 April 2024 (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Israel should not attack Iran, says former security chief

A former deputy head of Israel's National Security Council has denied that Israel has a mandate to attack Iran despite the strikes on Saturday night.

In a post published in The Times of Israel, Eran Etzion argued that Saturday night was "historic" regarding the ongoing confrontation between Israel, the US and Iran. But he stated that voices calling for an attack on Iran coming from the Israeli government could put Israel in diplomatic isolation from its allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who according to polls enjoys the support of only 20 percent of the Israeli public, can't order an attack on Iran without the approval of US President Joe Biden, according to Etzion.

"Netanyahu and the Israeli government do not have a mandate for any strategic decision except for two returns - the return of the hostages… and the return of the mandate to the Israeli people, who will choose a proper and clean leadership," he wrote.

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Two important victories to Israel

Israel has already scored two important strategic victories over Iran, wrote Amos Yadlin, a former chief of military intelligence.

"Iran's aggressive and precedent-setting response to the assassination in Damascus exceeded Israel's expectations," he wrote for Mako.

But the interception of 99 percent of more than 300 missiles and drones as reported in Israeli media can be viewed as a victory for Israel, US and her allies.

More importantly, said Yadlin, it was a strategic victory over Iran.

"Israel has an interest in exacting a price from Iran for its aggression, while at the same time avoiding turning the war in Gaza into a broad regional conflict with Iran, which could deteriorate into a severe war on the northern front as well," he wrote.

According to Yadlin, Israel's means of exacting a price from Iran is through "an announcement that Israel will be ready to stop the war in Gaza after all the hostages are returned".

A deal of that sort will open the way for Israel to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia and strengthen the anti-Iran coalition in the region.

'Mr Security's' many flaws

Iran's missile and drone attack is the latest failure of Netanyahu's tenure as prime minister of Israel says Yossi Verter, a senior political columnist in Haaretz.

Verter said that Netanyahu, who has pitched himself as "Mr Security" multiple times in the past, has now brought Israel under threats from Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen and Iran.

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"Children in Israel were born, grew up, went to the army and graduated under the impression that only one person is capable of handling the Iranian nuclear threat," he said.

According to Verter, Netanyahu's failure to anticipate Iran's Saturday attack stemmed from a similar weakness that led to the Hamas attack on 7 October.

"The longer Netanyahu's tenure lasts, the weaker Israel is perceived to be. Unfortunately, this is not just a perception," he wrote.

Biden is telling Netanyahu not to attack Iran, but his far-right senior ministers and partners are calling on him to carry out a harsh military response.

According to Verter, under the current government of Israel, the regional coalition led by the US is under severe danger because Netanyahu is a "captive" of his right-wing partners.

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