Washington Examiner

US expresses worry over potential escalation of conflict after Iranian assault on Israel, igniting broader regional concerns

President Joe Biden is⁣ striving to prevent the Middle East⁤ from descending into a regional war amidst escalating tensions following Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel. The U.S. emphasizes avoiding direct conflict with Iran while ‌supporting Israel’s defense. Diplomatic efforts are underway to curb escalation and impose sanctions on⁤ Iran’s‌ missile programs. Threats of retaliation raise concerns of further conflict ​escalation.

President Joe Biden has spent the last six months fervently trying to prevent the Middle East from devolving into a regional war. Yet Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel threatens to do exactly that.

His administration maintains that the United States does not seek a direct conflict with Iran and that it will continue to come to Israel’s defense if it is attacked, all the while trying to encourage the Israelis to avoid a wider conflict with Tehran.

“The president, from the beginning of this conflict on Oct. 7, has been steadfast and consistent. We don’t want to see a war with Iran,” National Security Council coordinator John Kirby recently told reporters. “We don’t want to see a broader regional conflict. We will do what we have to do to defend Israel.”

Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari shows one the Iranian ballistic missiles Israel intercepted on April 14 at Julis army base in southern Israel. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

Iran, over the weekend of April 12-13, launched a barrage of more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel. U.S. intelligence agencies and Biden publicly had warned an attack was imminent. Nearly all of the weapons were intercepted by Israel, with help from the U.S., Great Britain, France, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

There were no major civilian casualties or damage to infrastructure due to the attack, according to the Israel Defense Forces. A few of the Iranian ballistic missiles made it through the defenses, severely injuring a 7-year-old girl and slightly damaging a military base in southern Israel, according to Israeli officials.

War by subterfuge breaks out into the open

The attack marked Iran’s first open military swipe at Israel from its own soil. But Israel and the Shiite Islamic theocracy have spent years covertly fighting one another, sometimes in fights between IDF soldiers and Tehran-backed proxy groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, which it is at war against, and others.

Israel has operated covertly to, among other things, stunt the burgeoning Iranian nuclear program. In June 2010, Stuxnet, an advanced computer worm, was discovered. It is believed that it had been developed by the U.S. and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Also that year, a wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists began. The assassinations were widely believed to be the work of Mossad, Israel’s foreign intelligence service.

Iran has backed Hamas and its ruling junta in the Gaza Strip, from which the Oct. 7 attacks were launched, claiming 1,200 Israeli lives and taking hostage hundreds of people, some of whom remain in captivity.

But Iran’s most direct attack, the firing of more than 300 missiles and attack drones, was spectacularly unsuccessful. Moreover, Israel had support from several allies in intercepting nearly all of the munitions, even as it faced condemnation over Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza.

Israel is weighing its response. Some contend Israel should use the attack as a justification to hit back at Tehran and to do it hard. They envision Israel targeting Iran’s nuclear facility or senior military leaders, among other possible targets.

“Israel has a wide range of potential targets. You start by flattening Iran’s air defense capabilities,” said John Bolton, a national security adviser for former President Donald Trump. “Next, you might go after headquarters of the regular military and the Revolutionary Guard. You could consider going after their oil infrastructure, the oil fields, the distribution pipelines, the export port facilities. And most importantly, I think Israel should be looking at this as an opportunity to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which is the existential threat that Israel faces.”

IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi said Iran’s attack “will be met with a response,” though he did not specify what kind.

Others caution now is the time for Israel to exercise restraint and lean into diplomatic efforts to isolate and ostracize Tehran on a global stage further.

“In the 36 hours since, we have been coordinating a diplomatic response to seek to prevent escalation,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “Strength and wisdom need to be different sides of the same coin.”

On the diplomatic front, the president directed the U.S. to work with its G7 allies “on new multilateral sanctions to target Iran’s missile and other nefarious programs,” Kirby announced. “G7 countries that had yet to designate the IRGC a terrorist organization are now considering doing so.”

Iran already threatened to retaliate if Israel responds, which could further lead the region into conflict.

“We firmly declare that the smallest action against Iran’s interests will most certainly be confronted with a severe, extensive, and painful response against all its role players,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a call with Qatar’s emir.

The U.S. has sought to prevent a wider conflict since Hamas, one of Tehran’s proxies, carried out a gruesome terrorist attack on Oct. 7. The administration’s desire to avoid a regional conflict has played a role in how it has handled tangential crises that emanated from this conflict.

Israel’s response to the Iranian attack will be the latest moment in which observers will get to see how well the U.S. can persuade its Israeli allies to do what it wants. The administration spent months urging the Israelis to do more to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians and to reduce the number of civilian casualties they incur. And yet, the U.S. did not express satisfaction with their efforts on either until recently.

Biden threatened to condition aid to Israel following an errant Israeli airstrike in Gaza that killed several aid workers. He had been refraining from doing so despite calls from within his party. But in making that threat, the first time he did so publicly, the president got Israeli leaders to make strides to do what he demanded.


Iran also trains and funds militias in Iraq and Syria, which carried out roughly 170 drone and missile attacks targeting U.S. forces stationed in both countries and Jordan since the Oct. 7 attack. The one attack that occurred in Jordan resulted in the deaths of three U.S. service members. The U.S. had conducted some limited strikes to combat the militias, but the response to the deaths of the troops put a stop to those attacks.

The U.S. also initially set up a defensive alliance in response to the Houthis — another Tehran-backed group, this one based in Yemen — who have carried out dozens of attacks on commercial vessels off Yemen’s coasts. Their attacks have forced shipping companies to reroute their vessels on longer, more costly routes to avoid those waterways.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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