Sherwin Pomerantz

How Best to Respond to Iran

The IDF on Tuesday announced a drill testing the interface between its cyber and technology units and its Northern Command operational units. The announcement of the drill comes as Israel considers potentially imminent attack options against Iran following the Islamic Republic’s attack of around 350 aerial threats on Israel on April 14. Part of Israel’s response could be in the cyber domain, and it is quite possible that an attack by the Jewish state will lead to a further counterstrike by Tehran and its senior proxy, Hezbollah.

As part of the drill, both combat and cyber and technology forces deployed throughout the North, on every separate front, to simulate readiness for an all-out hybrid digital and kinetic war. IDF Division 210 drilled specific scenarios for threats both from Lebanon and Syria, while IDF artillery Brigade 282 also participated in an emergency scenario. The IDF’s special alpine unit for high mountains also participated, including training for urban fighting scenarios.

IDF Chief of Staff. Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Monday night spoke at the Nevatim air force base in southern Israel, which Iran targeted and partially hit on Sunday, saying, “We are weighing our steps, and the firing of so many missiles, including cruise missiles, and drones at the State of Israel’s territory, will be responded to.” Halevi added that he was uplifted by the massive defensive support umbrella provided by the US to help shoot down Iran’s swarms of aerial attacks.

In addition, he said that he knew that the pilots at the base were ready for any mission against Iran

Regarding reports that the damage to Nevatim was more extensive than originally admitted by the IDF, the military doubled down on Monday, calling the reports incorrect. The IDF did not give full specifics, The Jerusalem Post could not independently confirm the situation, and the military has sometimes in the past downplayed successes by Israeli adversaries in a somewhat exaggerated fashion, claiming national security concerns.

Hamas has dropped the number of hostages it is willing to release in the first stage of any deal with Israel from 40 to 20, according to Israel’s Channel 12. The terrorist organization is also demanding the release of more hardened terrorists and a higher ratio of jailed Palestinian terrorists released per Israeli hostage freed. Hamas said on Saturday that it reaffirms “our adherence to our demands and the national demands of our people,” with “a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of the occupation army from the entire Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced to their areas and places of residence, intensification of the entry of relief and aid and the start of reconstruction.” While Israel has shown flexibility in the hopes of arriving at a hostage deal, Hamas has impeded an agreement, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Monday.

Regarding a response to Iran, Jack Detsch, a Pentagon and national security reporter at Foreign Policy magazine, postulates that there are three ways Israel could respond to Iran while minimizing the global fallout and reaction. He begins by taking the position that Israel probably has no choice but to respond, a position echoed by most of our leadership here.

That was the message that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant reportedly conveyed to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, even as top Biden administration officials—including the president himself—urged Israel to be careful with its response. Biden also told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that the United States would not participate in or support a direct Israeli strike on Iran.

In light of that pressure, Israel has a choice to make. Does it go with a high-risk strike on Iranian soil, perhaps against its nuclear program or another high-value target? Or does it try to lower the risk of regional war with a more tailored approach, such as a cyberattack against Tehran, targeted strikes against Iranian commanders outside of Iran, or an attack on Iran-backed proxy groups in the region? To answer that question, Detsch identifies the following three options as ideal:

  • Option 1: Attack Iran’s Nuclear Program
  • Option 2: Target Iranian Commanders, Military, or Sites Inside or Outside Iran
  • Option 3: Strike Iranian Proxies or Launch a Cyberattack on Iran

Each of these options carries its own potential risks. Nevertheless, none of them fall into the category of attacking Iran itself (except for disabling their nuclear program) or invading the country, which Israel would, of course, be wise to avoid.

Personally, I remain against doing anything now. Iran has embarrassed itself by not being able to make good on its promises for years that it would not stand idly by while Israel achieved success and became accepted in the region. Saturday night’s failures proved that Iran, while still dangerous, is not the tiger it thought it was.  Israel might do better to do nothing now and wait to respond with one of these options when the Iranians become complacent, and stop worrying about our response. It would take patience on our part which is always in short supply here, but would employ effective psychological warfare on an enemy nation waiting for the other shoe to fall. And when it does we will have the last word.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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