The Consequences and Implications of Iran’s Retaliatory Strikes Against Israel


On April 1, Israel attacked the Iranian consulate in Syria that killed Iranian officials, including top commanders of the Quds Forces, Mohammed Reza Zahedi and Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi. In retaliation, Iran launched a direct attack against Israel for the first time on April 13. Iran claims that the retaliation did not violate international law, citing Article 51 of the UN Charter, which outlines the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense in the case of an armed attack and recognizes the right of countries to defend themselves against armed attacks. The recent escalation comes amid fears and concerns of a wider war that could destabilize the region.

As per the Israel Defense Forces, approximately 350 rockets carrying about 60 tons of explosives were launched from Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.  The Israeli air defense system, along with assistance from its allies, intercepted 99% of the projectiles. As per Iranian media reports Iran used Shahed-136 drones, as well as cruise and ballistic missiles such as Paveh, Emad, Rezvan, and Sejjil. Iran’s choice of weaponry mirrors the tactics used by Iranian proxy groups, which also favor commercially inexpensive and domestically produced drones and missiles, adopting a tactical approach that minimizes costs.

Iranian officials have reiterated that their intention is not to initiate escalation but rather to assert their boundaries and have confirmed that the retaliation has “concluded” by communicating the same to the UNSC. Iran said that it has opened a new chapter in its fight against Israel and Major General Hossein Salami said that from now on, Iran “will respond from its own soil to any attack by Israel on Iranian interests, assets, notable people and citizens in any part of the world.” The timing of the attack did not come as a surprise, considering the prior warnings and intelligence. Iran recognizes that launching a direct attack would alter the dynamics of the ongoing shadow conflict between the two nations, with different rules at play. By opting for direct assaults, Iran has signaled a shift. Additionally, Iran cautioned the United States against involvement in the conflict and asserted its readiness to act promptly, mindful of the domestic pressures facing the Biden administration ahead of the US elections as the responses to such an escalation from a possible Republican government could be different, especially as Republican leaders have called for a firmer stance from the United States in support of Israel.

Iran’s retaliation can be interpreted as a performative act, aimed at sending a clear message that Iran possesses the capability and willingness to strike back when targeted. This response was crucial for Iranian “hardliners,” demonstrating their commitment to their rhetoric by reacting decisively and forcefully. Iran is now strategically leveraging the prevailing anti-Israel sentiment across the region to further its objectives. Iran’s main goal with the strikes was to strike a balance: to respond sufficiently to symbolize its military prowess while also averting the risk of escalating into full-scale warfare. Iran comprehends the volatility of the current situation and has crafted its narrative accordingly, diverging between domestic propaganda and international strategic considerations. While domestically, Iran asserts that significant damage was inflicted upon Israeli military and intelligence assets, reports from media and other sources present a contrasting reality. Furthermore, Iran likely anticipated minimal damage as it refrained from a surprise attack, having issued prior warnings, thus reflecting the nature of its propaganda regarding the damage inflicted as a result of the attack.

The recent Iranian attacks have brought about several consequences. Undoubtedly, these strikes have heightened tensions and raised the likelihood of additional retaliatory actions in a cycle of escalation. This pattern of attacks could potentially deepen the conflict and make de-escalation more challenging to achieve. Moreover, reciprocal attacks and responses between Iran and Israel have shifted focus away from the situation in Gaza, where Israel’s escalating aggression has drawn global condemnation. The recent Iranian strike has provided Israel with an opportunity to reshape the narrative, potentially enabling it to ease its isolation due to the violence in Gaza. The attack also presents an opportunity for Republican hawks in the United States, such as John Bolton, to view it as justification for targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities, thus exacerbating regional security risks. The retaliation has compounded the complexity of de-escalation efforts, making it increasingly challenging to reach a consensus and address the volatile situation, both regionally and globally. The deepening involvement of Iran complicates its relationship with regional countries like Jordan, which remains concerned with Iran’s extensive engagement. Jordan already contends with threats from Iranian proxies, and the passage of Iranian missiles and drones through Jordanian airspace is viewed as a violation of its sovereignty.

Iran cannot afford to be drawn into a broader conflict, given its ongoing economic crisis and the prospect of additional sanctions from the European Union, which would complicate Iran’s engagement with the West. The victims of such a situation once again would be the Iranian people as Iran does not have an appetite for war in the current context.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been under pressure from the Biden administration to change his course of action in Gaza after Iran’s retaliatory strikes, has vowed to “make its own decisions and do whatever is necessary to protect itself,” even if it contradicts the advice given by its allies. Israel’s options for retaliation include offshore targeted strikes, covert assassinations or direct military action. However, any response risks further escalation, especially as Iranian proxies in the region continue to target Israel. Both Israel and Iran are keen on increasing deterrence and asserting their military capabilities, but the persisting dangers lie in the discrepancy between what Israel considers a proportionate response and how Tehran perceives it, increasing the risk of miscalculation that could trigger a continuous cycle of attacks.

Editorial Team