Sherwin Pomerantz

The 194th Day of War in Israel

The European Union agreed today to increase sanctions on Iran as a result of the attack on Israel earlier this week and in order to halt their continued supplying of attack drones to Russia which are being used in the Ukraine war. They also intend for this to hamper deliveries of drones to Iran’s proxies in the region. Reports are that the US will follow suit, ramping up sanctions on Iran in a dramatic fashion. The EU and the US have expectations that other allies around the world will do so as well.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to American Jewish leaders on Tuesday and advised them that further escalation with Iran is not in the best interest of the U.S. or Israel, Axios reported.  According to three people who attended the meeting, the Biden administration and other Western allies are strongly urging Israel to not jump too hastily into a retaliation against Iran that could lead to a larger regional war.

“We think it will be very hard to replicate the huge success we had on Saturday with defeating the attack if Iran launches hundreds of missiles and drones again — and the Israelis know it,” a U.S. official told Axios.  While the US is urging restraint, Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, that an Israeli response is inevitable. Speaking on Sunday, Gallant reportedly told Austin that permitting a large-scale attack to go unanswered would signal to Iran that it can attack Israel whenever it hits targets in Syria.

The IDF has decided how it will counter-strike Iran and its proxies but has not yet settled on the timing; multiple sources told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Because the timing is still variable and because of all the necessary complex preparations, the current decision could change.  However, the very development of a decision shows the severity and determination of Israel’s leadership to strike back, though all indications are that Jerusalem still seeks to tamp down the attack to avoid spiraling into a regional war.

IDF Chief of Staff Halevi hinted that the timing of the attack was not very imminent during a visit to the Arrow air defense battery of Battalion 136.  He said, “We are enabling a home front policy to at least give citizens this Passover week to live almost like normal because we completely trust you and your readiness.”  It is also possible that Halevi, Home Front command policies, and other officials keeping their regular schedules are part of a clever fake-out to get Iran and its proxies to lower their guard.  But at least the plain reading of the relevant signals suggests that a major attack is not imminent in the coming days and could even be postponed for longer.

In Gaza, the IDF continues to be active in central Gaza having disabled some rocket launchers as they were preparing to release the missiles against Israel.

In the north of Israel, sirens sounded again last night as rocket barrages continued to be fired by Hezbollah.  Israel responded by taking out two senior Hezbollah commanders and destroying the headquarters of some regional command centers in Lebanon.

 Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday urged the international community to confront Iran, as Jerusalem prepares a response to the Islamic Republic’s massive drone and missile attack over the weekend.   “The whole world must work decisively and defiantly against the threat posed by the Iranian regime, which is seeking to undermine the stability of the entire region,” Herzog said after meeting the foreign ministers of Britain and Germany in Jerusalem.

Herzog reiterated the Jewish state’s “unequivocal” commitment to defending its people, including by working for “the immediate return home of all the hostages held in captivity by Hamas in Gaza.”

A British official told local media on Tuesday night that London’s top diplomat was expected to sit down with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz, and possibly also with minister-without-portfolio and War Cabinet member Benny Gantz.  Though the one-day visit is to focus on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, Cameron will also bring up Tehran’s attack and tensions with Iran-backed terror groups in Lebanon.

As a side note, before President Herzog met with the two foreign ministers, he joined us in our synagogue in Jerusalem this morning, as today is the date in the Hebrew calendar on which his father, Chaim Herzog, passed away in 1997.  Our synagogue shares a wall with the official residence of the President of Israel and the President joined us for our 0615 service so that he could recite the traditional praises to God on the memorial day for his late father, who was also a former President of Israel.   What a great country eh?

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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