Heightened security measures as Israel braces for Iranian retaliation

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz

11th April 2024 – (Jerusalem) Israel has heightened its state of alert following threats of retaliation from Iran after a strike in Syria earlier this month claimed the lives of two Iranian generals. Concurrently, the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza continues unabated.

The Israeli defence apparatus has been bolstered, with increased air defences and a freeze on military leave for combat units, indicative of the heightened state of readiness. These measures follow a stern warning from the United States regarding potential attacks by Iran or its affiliates amidst escalating tensions in the Middle East.

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed grave concerns on Wednesday, underscoring “ironclad” support for Israel, a key regional ally. This assurance comes in the wake of a lethal attack on 1st April, which targeted Iran’s consulate in Damascus, resulting in seven fatalities from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including the loss of two generals.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, declared that Israel “must be punished and will be punished,” echoing the sentiments of an advisor who previously stated that Israeli embassies are now vulnerable targets.

Responding to these threats, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz took to the social media platform X, warning that any Iranian provocation would be met with a direct Israeli counterattack.

In a reaffirmation of unwavering solidarity, President Biden has assured Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security against Iranian threats and their proxies. “Ironclad” was the term reiterated by Biden to describe the U.S. stance on protecting Israel’s security interests.

In the wake of these developments, the U.S. Central Command chief Michael Kurilla is reportedly set to discuss the situation with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, according to Axios.

Moscow has called for moderation from both Iran and Israel, while also advising Russian nationals against travel to the region, citing the need for restraint to prevent further destabilisation of an already volatile region.

Amid these tensions, German airline Lufthansa has temporarily suspended flights to and from Tehran, citing prevailing conditions in the Middle East.

The strategic confrontation between Israel and the “Axis of Resistance,” which includes Iran and various militant groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, has been a long-standing feature of regional geopolitics.

The deceased Iranian IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi was an influential figure, heading the Quds Force’s foreign operations in Syria and Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Gaza has escalated since Hamas’s attack on 7th October, resulting in significant casualties and the capture of hostages. While Iran denies prior knowledge of the attack, it has lauded the strike against its long-standing adversary.

Israel’s subsequent military response in Gaza has seen extensive casualties, with the health ministry of the Hamas-governed region reporting a toll predominantly comprising women and children. The Israeli military has confirmed ongoing operations involving naval and air forces, aimed at neutralising “terrorist operatives” in the central Gaza Strip.

Civilians, such as Imad Abu Shawish of Nuseirat, speak of the unceasing bombardments causing widespread fear and panic, particularly among children.

Gaza’s infrastructure has suffered immensely, with swathes of territory reduced to ruins and a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by an Israeli blockade, limiting access to essential supplies. Despite proclaiming Hamas militarily defeated, Israeli war Cabinet member Benny Gantz has vowed to continue the fight against the remnants of the group.