Since Israel went into Gaza after October7, we have been intrigued by the essentially sideline posture assumed by Iran while the Gaza war between its surrogate Hamas and Israel – with the intermittent involvement of the other Iran surrogates Hezbollah and Houthis – rages on. Threats of coming “ripostes” and “thrashings” and “harsh responses” have come fast and furious, but little by way of action from Iran.

And there was more of the same following the airstrike assassination in the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus early last week of a top Iranian general, a senior commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Reportedly, he was involved in the planning and execution of Hamas’ October 7 massacre and was the main Iranian official responsible for operations in Syria and Lebanon. Killed along with the general, were his deputy and several other IRGC officers. So, the prominence of the targets and their elimination on the grounds of the Iranian consulate make this a very big deal.


Yet, as this is being written, a full week has passed since the assassinations and nothing has happened. Of course, something may still be coming, especially since planning may be extensive and ongoing and the period of Ramadan will be upon us for another few days.

Maybe. But we have also seen reporting that Iran may be trying to find a face-saving way to back off its vow to retaliate. Citing an anonymous Arab diplomat, the news outlet Jadeh Iran is reporting that Iran has offered to refrain from responding to the assassinations if a ceasefire in Gaza is reached.

At all events, recent analyses of the relative military capacities of Israel and Iran suggest that Iran’s discretion may have been the better part of its valor.

At the outset, we note that the war in Gaza has demonstrated what Israel is capable of bringing to the table. Granted, Hamas is not Iran. But the Gaza experience has to make Iran think long and hard about a direct confrontation with Israel nonetheless. Iran, an established country with a population of almost 90 million, an economy, and an industrial base. It would put much more at risk than the ragtag Hamas.

Further, Iran has to know from its intelligence sources that Israel has not tapped into a fraction of its military might. And this is to say nothing of the likelihood of direct or indirect U.S. involvement in any conflict between Israel and Iran.

Added to this is the conclusion of Matan Wasserman, a military affairs reporter for the Jerusalem Post who recently surveyed Israel’s long range attack capabilities: “In the event of an all-out war, the damage Israel will cause to those countries that attack it is tens of times greater than their ability to harm Israel.”

Finally, a recent New York Times article by its diplomatic correspondents Michael Crowley and Edward Wong explored the massive amount of arms the U.S. has provided to Israel since the fall of 2016 beginning in the Obama Administration.

There is no way to avoid the plain fact that Israel’s military capacity, even aside from its daunting personnel, is formidable, broad and deep and far more than a match for Iran.

Hopefully President Biden will not do anything to upset this equation.

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