Thursday, May 23, 2024

Israel Planned Bigger Attack on Iran, but Scaled It Back to Avoid War

HomeWARIsrael Planned Bigger Attack on Iran, but Scaled It Back to Avoid...

Tel Aviv (April 23, 2024) – In a dramatic crisis careening toward all-out regional war before slamming on the brakes, Israel was just hours away from unleashing a mammoth bombardment of Iran after absorbing an unprecedented missile and drone barrage. But intense last-minute pressure from the United States and allies saw the planned Israeli retaliation drastically scaled back at the eleventh hour to a limited strike, multiple sources revealed.

The two bitter enemies stood poised on the brink of a devastating escalating conflict after Iran’s massive April 13th missile volleys targeting Israeli cities. Israeli military planners had drawn up retaliatory battle plans of a scarcely conceivable scope – a ferocious counterstrike “like Israel had never launched before” according to one insider. The operation called for saturating bombing runs by waves of fighter jets striking deep across dozens of strategic targets throughout Iran, including the vicinity of Tehran itself.

However, those apocalyptic scenarios were abruptly aborted after American and European leaders made desperate interventions urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise restraint. A furious overnight call from President Joe Biden helped dissuade Israel’s security chiefs from proceeding with their most maximalist scenarios. Ultimately, a more contained series of long-range missile and drone strikes from offshore Israeli jets replaced what had nearly occurred – an aerial bombardment of Iran that could have ignited an all-out regional inferno.

“We were literally hours away from an escalating inside Iran itself that could have led us right to the precipice of an intensely destructive war, maybe beyond anything we’ve seen,” confided one Israeli officer. The officer spoke on strict anonymity, as he was not authorized to discuss the military’s operational plans and deliberations leading up to the supercharged confrontation.

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“We’d gotten so far down the road in planning this massive air operation over Iran – target packages had been readied, aircraft armed and deployed – only to be pulled back from that brink after some absolutely frantic interventions by our American partners and allies who realized how big this was about to become,” he continued gravely.

Another Israeli source privy to high-level consultations laid out how rapidly the crisis escalated on two fronts – diplomatically and militarily – before being defused somewhat at the last possible moment.

“After Iran launched the first wave of missiles targeting Israeli cities, our military doctrine called for forceful retaliation as a deterrent before they could reload and fire even more,” the source explained. “The Iranian barrage kept intensifying beyond even our analysts’ direst predictions, and the options we began panning out grew more and more extreme quite quickly as each new projection showed Iran raining more ordnance down.”

Israel’s original plans were said to have extended beyond just targeting missile sites inside Iran to include obliterating other regime nerve centers instrumental to its nuclear program, missile production facilities, and other strategic assets. Some scenarios even studied regime decapitation strikes aimed at Iranian leadership elements. The sheer concerted tempo and scale of what Israeli forces anticipated winding up were truly breathtaking.

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“We were staring down facing an industrialized onslaught from Iran’s arsenal that would have prompted one of the largest air campaigns in our military history to retaliate and degrade Iran’s capabilities,” the official admitted, adding “Every wargame had the situation spiraling completely out of control into an all-out Middle East cataclysm.”

But as Israeli forces mustered to execute those maximal retaliatory scenarios, urgent interventions from world powers pulled the brake at the last minute on some of the more boundless contingencies after the implications came into focus. In nearly back-to-back overnight calls on April 13th, Biden, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock all conveyed urgent pleas to Netanyahu to tamp down the spiraling crisis before it burst into a full regional war.

“The calls I was monitoring were extremely intense,” the official recounted. “Biden was insistent Israel show utmost restraint – he made clear any strike inside Iranian territory this expansive would completely gulf the entire Middle East in hostilities we could no longer control. The allied leaders recognized the very real breakout risks of unintended escalations and spillover effects.”

Ultimately, it was Biden’s prolonged one-on-one conversation with Netanyahu, warning of the catastrophic consequences of proceeding with unbridled retaliation, that convinced the Israeli leader to pull back from the most extreme scenarios. Israel agreed to restrict its response to limited offshore missile strikes and drone operations aimed at signal deterrence, not decapitation.

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The strike plan finally executed avoided penetrating Iranian airspace and inflicted only limited damage on certain air defense batteries in central Iran. One missile destroyed midflight prevented excess damage. According to observers, the operation was crafted to send a pointed message reaffirming Israel’s precision strike capability against Iran’s military infrastructure while avoiding worst-case escalation.

“We demonstrated we could surgically hit military assets deep in Iran’s heartland from stand-off distances, but pulled our punches to avoid humiliating the regime into a cornered retaliation cycle,” assessed one Western diplomat briefed on the strike. “It was a proportionate pinprick intended to re-establish deterrence without triggering an uncontrollable broader escalation.”

Iran’s muted official response, avoiding claims of significant damage or vows of retaliation, suggested the regime got the calculated message while still saving face. For now, at least, the crisis threatening broader war appears to have deescalated – though the glacier of enmity remains inexorably lurching forward, portending future collisions.

“We were peering into the abyss of a cataclysmic Middle East war, only to have some critical late intervention from allies prevent us taking those final fateful escalatory steps over the precipice,” the Israeli officer mused. “But it took navigating so close to that edge for everyone to finally appreciate how horrifically destructive and all-consuming the next round of hostilities could become if we don’t get ahead of this crisis cycle soon.”

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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