Israel threatened to retaliate – and it appears to have been a carefully chosen response

World

Israel threatened a retaliation, and it came before dawn on Friday morning.

We’ll see what unfolds in the coming hours, but early indications suggest they were limited strikes and on deliberately chosen targets – if that is the case, then this doesn’t appear to be the devastating response the Israeli war cabinet had warned of.

There have been further reports of explosions heard in Iraq and Syria, but as yet no evidence of impacts – those explosions could possibly have been sonic booms caused by Israeli jets breaking the sound barrier, although there are many pro-Iranian militia in that region and they would be easy pickings for the Israeli air force.

Middle East latest: Israel carries out operation in Iran, source says

One strike appears to have been on an airbase outside Isfahan which is connected to Iran’s aircraft manufacturing industry – if this was the target then it appears to have been carefully chosen as a response to the drones flown at Israel on Saturday night: you fly drones at us, we take out the place they were built.

Isfahan is close to one of Iran’s nuclear facilities – although this doesn’t appear to be an attack on the nuclear site, which would have been far more serious, it sends a clear message that Israel can go there if pushed, and isn’t frightened to.

The timing of the attack, around 4am in Iran, will probably have limited casualties too, and if so limit what Iran does next.

More on Iran

Reports that Iran shot missiles out of the sky should be treated with some scepticism.

On Saturday night Iran flew more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel: most were intercepted before they reached Israeli airspace and the ones that got through caused minimal damage to an airbase.

If Israel has successfully flown F35 stealth jets into Iranian airspace, then it’s rather humiliating for the Iranian military and is a message from Israel that they can do what Iran cannot.

Iranian leaders had threatened an immediate and strong response to any Israeli attack – we’ll see.

Watch for any sign that Iran implicates the US in the strikes – that might signal their intent to label US bases in Iraq and Syria as legitimate targets for any response.

Iran will of course be inclined to respond, but if this turns out to be a single strike, at a target connected to Iran’s attacks, and with limited civilian harm, then I don’t think Tehran will have reason, desire or justification to escalate.

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