Israel needs the unequivocal backing of its allies after Iran’s despicable attack

Article published in The Express, 14 April 2024. © Richard Kemp

On Saturday night I witnessed the most intensive aerial assault I have seen against Israel. To the soundtrack of thunderous explosions, the sky over Jerusalem was lit up with Star Wars-like air defence projectiles colliding with Iranian missiles. But Iran’s historically unprecedented attack was a total failure, with the overwhelming majority of killer drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles knocked out of the sky before even entering Israeli territory. As well as 300 air weapons fired from Iran, projectiles were launched by Tehran’s proxies in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, again without success. The total effect of this massive bombardment was the severe wounding of a child and only minor damage to an IDF air base. Nevertheless it is important to recognise this was not a symbolic attack designed to fail. That would have been done with far fewer missiles and drones. The response to this strike should be commensurate with Iran’s clear intent: to hit hundreds of targets and kill hundreds of people.

Yet President Biden has told Prime Minister Netanyahu that he should consider this ‘a win’. In other words: take it on the chin. Did Biden pressure Ukraine not to respond to Russian missile strikes on it territory? No he did not and such a call to Israel now is preposterous. It is exactly this approach from the start of Biden’s presidency that has led us to where we are today — consistently appeasing Iran and responding with abject feebleness to repeated attacks against US forces.

Of course the ayatollahs ignored Biden’s hollow warnings in recent days not to attack Israel and of course they have now directly threatened the US not to get involved in any Israeli retaliation. Lining up with Biden’s timorous message Iran’s military mission to the UN has said that, with its strike on Israel, ‘the matter can be deemed concluded’. But it is far from concluded. Iran has repeatedly confirmed its intent to annihilate the Jewish state and has constructed a ‘ring of fire’ of proxies surrounding Israel to achieve that. Hamas’s massacre of Israelis on 7th October was part of this monstrous design. As are the daily rocket attacks against Israel since then by its proxy Lebanese Hizballah. Israel’s strike against Iranian generals in Damascus on 1st April eliminated the top level controllers and facilitators of those attacks, who will of course be replaced.

Most seriously, Iran is on the verge of gaining nuclear weapons to threaten Israel and the whole region. If Saturday’s demonstration of Iran’s menace does not convince world leaders that this cannot be allowed to continue, nothing will. But whatever the rest of the world thinks, it is existential for Israel. I believe only a devastating response against Iran will reduce the chances of further escalation and perhaps at least disrupt the nuclear weapons programme. But there are also many dangers with this and it is up to Israel to decide how to respond to the perilous new situation Iran has created. Whatever it does, it should have the unequivocal backing of its allies, especially the US, Britain and France, all of whose forces commendably took to the skies last night to help defend Israel.

Image: Mehr News Agency/Wikimedia Commons