WTH is Iran Attacking Israel?
Fred Kagan Explains



Last weekend, for the first time since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Iran launched a direct attack on Israel from Iranian territory. In total, some 170 drones, 120 surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, and more than 30 cruise missiles targeted Israel, with most coming from Iran, and some from Iranian proxies in Iraq and Yemen. In response to what was a well-advertised attack, Israel, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Jordan (among other Arab countries) deployed from land, sea, and air with jets, missile defense, and a guided missile cruiser among a sophisticated array of defensive assets. As a result, a reported seven missiles landed mostly harmlessly in Israel, with injuries restricted to shrapnel injuring a young Bedouin girl. Israeli and American leaders were quick to celebrate Iran’s failed attack and the “restoration of deterrence.” But are the Israelis correct in celebrating Iran’s inability to cause real damage? Or are they ignoring the very real risk that seven Iranian missiles actually hit the State of Israel? What will Iran learn from this exercise? And how did their attack reflect the lessons Russia is learning on Iranian equipment in Ukraine?

Frederick W. Kagan is the director of AEI’s Critical Threats Project and a former professor of military history at the US Military Academy at West Point. He is the author of the 2007 report Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq, which is one of the intellectual architects of the successful “surge” strategy in Iraq, and the book Lessons for a Long War (AEI Press, 2010). His Critical Threats Project, alongside the Institute for the Study of War, releases regular updates on Iranian activity in the Middle East, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and transnational terrorism on the African continent.

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