A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Earthquake Shakes the Northeast Before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Earthquake shakes Bath area

by Christopher Burns July 29, 2020

A minor earthquake shook the Bath area early Wednesday morning.

The magnitude 2.2 earthquake was recorded about 3:10 a.m. at a depth of 3.1 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It hit about 4 miles north of Bath to the east of Merrymeeting Bay.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the quake caused any damage.

It’s the fifth earthquake recorded in Maine so far this year, according to the Maine Geological Survey. Since 1997, there have been 113 recorded earthquakes in the state, the Maine Geological Survey reports.

The strongest quake in recent memory occurred on July 14, 2006, when a 3.8 magnitude earthquake shook the ground northwest of Portage, according to the Maine Geological Survey. But Maine has felt the impact of much larger earthquakes that hit as far away as Plattsburg, New York, and Quebec City.

About 900,000 earthquakes below magnitude 2.5 are felt each year across the globe, according to Michigan Technological University.

Iran Prepares For The Nuclear Dawn (Revelation 16)

Iran playing the nuclear-dawn game

“A glance at the history of nuclear weapons manufacture shows that all 11 countries that wished to build bombs did so within three to 10 years,” wrote Yossi Melman, intelligence and strategic affairs correspondent for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, on Sunday. So why, he asked, has Iran failed to do it in more than 30 years of trying?

Maybe, Melman suggests, it’s because Iran doesn’t really want to build nuclear weapons. Maybe it just wants to be a ‘threshold’ nuclear power, always able to finish the job quickly if it really needs to.

If Iran’s enemies both nearby (Sunni Muslim countries and Israel) and far away (the United States) know that it can get nukes quickly in a crisis, that’s almost as good a deterrent as having them in hand. But it does not incur the boycotts, sanctions, and risks of ‘preemptive’ nuclear strikes that come with actually having the things.

This is not exactly a new thought, but it’s the first time I have seen it in the Israeli media. It’s also the first time I’ve seen the obvious question put so plainly: how could any country possibly spin the job out that long?

Iran is a country of 80 million people with adequate scientific and technological skills. At any point in the past 50 years it could certainly have built nuclear weapons in less than 10 years if it had gone all out. It didn’t. Why not?

Iran’s original nuclear weapons program was started by the Shah in the 1970s with the blessing of the United States, which was hoping to make him the pro-American policeman of the Middle East.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolutionaries shut that program down when they seized power in 1979. They reckoned they didn’t need it. The only country in the Middle East that does have nuclear weapons is Israel, and the Iranian assessment has always been that it won’t be reckless with them.

Not only are Israel’s nuclear weapons relatively unthreatening, but Israel has an implicit American nuclear guarantee. There is no point in getting a few Iranian nuclear weapons to deter Israel’s hundreds and America’s thousands of the things. Indeed, when it comes to potential Iranian nukes, it’s never about Israel.

What really does get the Iranians going is nuclear threats from other countries. The first time was after Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Iran (with U.S. support) in 1980. Iraq really did have a nuclear weapons program, Iraqi ballistic missiles were already falling on Iranian cities, and so at some point during that eight-year war Iran restarted the Shah’s nuclear weapons project.

Saddam’s invasion of Iran failed, however, and his subsequent invasion of Kuwait and defeat in the 1990-91 Gulf war ended with the dismantling of Iraq’s nuclear facilities under UN supervision. So Iran’s nuclear weapons program went back into hibernation. How can we be sure?  Melman’s ‘10-year rule’: if Iran had kept going, surely it would have nukes by now.

The next panic was in 1998, when India and Pakistan each tested half a dozen nuclear weapons. India is no threat to Iran, but Pakistan potentially is. It is a powerful Sunni Muslim state (220 million people) right next-door to Iran, the world’s only major Shia country.

Sunni extremists have never gained power in Pakistan, but there is a big jihadi influence that even extends into the army. Iran panicked again, and in 1999 it secretly restarted its nuclear weapons program.

That only ran until 2002, however, when an anti-regime Iranian revolutionary group, Mujahedin-e-Khalk, spilled the beans in public. Sanctions were imposed on Iran, and work on nuclear weapons once again ceased.

So the ‘mystery’ is solved. The Iranian nuclear weapons program has not been active for a total of 10 years, let alone 10 continuous years. And Iran was willing to sign the internationally guaranteed 10-year deal to stop all potentially nuclear weapons-related work in 2015, because it is already close enough in terms of being a ‘threshold’ state.

There is the same constant tug-of-war between the rational actors and the ultra-hawks in Tehran as there is in Washington, Moscow and Beijing, but most of the time the grown-ups are in charge. If they lose the argument to the extremists in next year’s Iranian election, it will be because Donald Trump pulled out of that deal and reimposed sanctions in Iran.

Why did he do that when even his own intelligence services were saying the Iranians were keeping their promises under that deal? Because the deal was part of Barack Obama’s legacy, all of which Trump is determined to destroy, and for no better reason.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does have a rational reason for wanting to destroy the deal, however. His intelligence services also told him that Iran was fulfilling its commitments under the deal, but he needs the Iranian nuclear ‘threat’ in order to win Israeli elections.

Does the phrase ‘rogue states’ spring to mind?

Iran: Babylon the Great & Israel ‘Epitome of Evil’

Iran: US & Israel ‘Epitome of Evil’

July 29, 2020

In a message released on Wednesday, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Islamic Republic’s firm stance on the ongoing developments in the US and the anti-racism movements is “supporting the people and condemning the racist US government’s brutal behavior.”

He enumerated the cases of the US government’s decline, such as the mistreatment of its people, the deep social inequality, the terrible racial prejudice, and the barbaric killing of a black man at the hands of the police.

“The US treatment of the weak nations is a magnified version of behavior of that police officer who kneeled on the neck of a defenseless black man and pressed him to death,” Khamenei said.

Stressing the need for unity within the Muslim community, Khamenei said such solidarity would counter the threats and hostilities and deal with the “epitome of evil, the aggressive and cruel US and the ‘Zionist regime’ of Israel.”

The quest to control nukes at sea (Revelation 8 )

Pakistani Submarines VS indian Submarines - YouTubeThe quest for sea-based nuclear deterrence

by PakistanToday , (Last Updated 21 hours ago)

• Sea-based nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan compared

By: Syed Daniyal Ali

The main motive of the deterrence is to create a threat to deter others from offending. It is considered an art to convince others not to do certain acts. The cold war introduced the concept of deterrence with nuclear weapons. After that, nuclear weapons and striking capabilities advancement were perceived as a great threat in the opposite camp. In response, counter-capabilities were adopted by the others. In the post-Cold War era, the game of nuclear deterrence can be seen in the Asia region. It can be observed in the context of the emergence of new nuclear states, India, Pakistan and China. These three nuclear states have matured and advanced in terms of nuclear weapons, and its delivery system and control and command establishment.

Since the creation of India and Pakistan, both states are engaged in three major wars.These armed conflicts continue to hold forth the risk of war. There are still unresolved conflicts, which include Kashmir, Siachen and the water disputes. In 1998 both states conducted nuclear tests, and after becoming nuclear states both raised many questions related to the security concerns in South Asia. Both states developed their nuclear thinking. In recent times, both states are focusing on their naval advancement. India started spending money on the sea-based missile capabilities; Pakistan followed the same trail for counter0capability. In the next decade, South Asia will emerge as a theatre of a sea-based nuclear-weapon deterrence.

India and Pakistan both have a strategic and central position in the Indian Ocean Region,especially their interest in the sea-based nuclear deterrence. Both states have national, economic and security concerns within the Indian Ocean Region. If the shores of both states are not protected, then there is no means of industrial development, political stability and no commercial growth.

Many questions arise about the logic of sea-based deterrence: The seapower concept is not a new one; the influence of seapower affects the wealth and strength of the states. Especially in war, issues related to the control of the sea, and the skilful use of the sea, cannot be neglected or ignored by any state. Some great strategist highlighted the importance of seapower; most famous and renowned, Mahan and Corbett wrote about the war strategies. In recent time, both strategists’ maritime theories are being implemented by all the states in different manners, as all are focusing on the control of lines of communication, and the primacy of politics in war, primarily focusing on their maritime advancements.

But the advancement of nuclear weapons has increased the importance of the sea-based nuclear deterrence. According to the assumption of realism, survival is the most critical factor of any state. The Indian Ocean Region is essential for India and Pakistan strategically, after showing its naval advancement provides the best opportunity to create sea-based deterrence.

Pakistan’s and India’s sea-based nuclear programmes might be at a nascent stage. Pakistan developed sea-based nuclear capability with diesel-electric submarine-launched cruise missile Babur and India has launched its first nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, which has changed the strategic position of the Indian Ocean.

Any aggressive action by India against Pakistan is surely going to elicit a matching response. Pakistan and India are both nuclear powers and military confrontation between them could have horrible consequences not only for this region but the entire world. In that event their own strategic, political and commercial interests would be jeopardized

As both states have availed the second-strike capabilities with sea-based nuclear programmes, that ensures that both will able to survive an initial nuclear strike and still be able to retaliate with a nuclear attack to inflict maximum damage. One view is that it will create stability in the South Asia region because the Pakistan rationale for developing naval nuclear capabilities is to attain second-strike capability against India, providing its strategic depth and creating nuclear deterrence. But the fact cannot be neglected that it is an entirely new technology for both states. Pakistan is buying six submarines equipped with the Babur from China for sea-based deterrence, but the deal still in progress. Whereas India’s Arihant also has a lot of operational issues: aside from the reactor fuel issue, secondly its range is not satisfactory. It is not able to attack the major cities of Pakistan like Islamabad and Lahore, and hardly it will able to target Karachi. Same is the case of the Chinese submarines for akistan, range issues still create a lot of limitations on them. They are also noisy like many Russian submarines, so Pakistan would have to adopt the bastion strategy. Conventional submarines are less noisy than nuclear submarines. Both states can be victims of C3 (Command, Control and Communication) issues. The possibility cannot be ignored that submarines might lose contact with their bases. Then will submarine officers be free to make their own decision on the use of nuclear weapons? Such issues will only lead towards enhancing the “fog of war”.

Little Hope Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

A funeral procession for members of the Albatsh family killed in an Israeli air raid in July 2014 [Courtesy: Albatsh family]

Palestinians see no ICC justice for Israel’s Gaza ‘crimes’

Palestinians have ‘little hope’ UN court will hold Israel accountable for thousands of deaths in 2014 Gaza attack.

Maram Humaid29 Jul 2020

Four children killed along with 18 other family members in one Israeli air raid. For one Palestinian couple living in Gaza, the 2014 attack never goes away.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) declared last December it would launch “a full investigation” into alleged war crimes committed in Palestinian territories by Israeli forces.

When it was announced, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip expressed “little hope” of holding Israel accountable for the massacres and achieving justice.

The UN court’s investigation will probe allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the wake of the 2014 attack on Gaza.

More than 2,250 Palestinians, including nearly 1,500 civilians, were killed and a further 11,000 were wounded in the July-August 2014 conflict, according to Palestinian and UN estimates. At least 18,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed and 73 medical facilities severely damaged. 

Most of the destruction resulted from more than 6,000 Israeli air raids on heavily populated areas. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians died. 

The decision to investigate by the ICC, based in The Hague, was widely praised by the Palestinian Authority and others as it could lead to charges against individuals who committed war crimes.

The ICC, however, began its summer recess of three weeks on July 17 without issuing a decision. It is expected the UN court will rule soon upon its return.

‘Like a nightmare’

Even after six years, Rajaa Albatsh is still stuck in the memories of the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, when four of her children were among 18 members of her family killed in an Israeli attack.

The 44-year-old mother recounted the story of that “bloody day”.

“On the evening of July 12 in 2014, we were sitting normally. Men were praying Ramadan evening prayer Al Tarawih when a huge explosion hit the whole area,” she told Al Jazeera.

“Destruction was everywhere. I did not see anything. I rushed to the street. All the people around me were screaming. It was an unforgettable scene.”

Israeli air raids hit the area repeatedly, killing 18 members of the Albatsh family with 45 others wounded. The family lived in adjacent homes in the al-Tofah neighbourhood east of the Gaza Strip.

“The bombs directly hit the home of my husband’s brother. Four of my children were there and they were killed along with the whole family of their uncle,” she recounted.

Photos of 18 members of the Albatsh family who were killed in an Israeli attack in 2014 [Courtesy: Albatsh family]

Rajaa learned about the deaths of her children while on the street as people started to bring out the bodies and the wounded.

“I was out of words. My husband was evacuated to the hospital in a critical condition. It was like a nightmare.”

Alaa Albatsh, Rajaa’s husband, said all he remembers is the sound of a huge explosion then he lost his consciousness and entered a coma that lasted for a week in hospital after he sustained shrapnel wounds to the head.

“When I woke up from the coma, my relatives were visiting me. But I was wondering: ‘Where are my children? Why are they not visiting me?’ Until one day a relative decided to tell me what happened. Four of my children were killed,” Albatsh said. “It hit me like a thunderbolt.”

Commenting on the ICC’s decision to probe the attack on the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Alaa said he is not optimistic of any investigation into the killing of his family.

“Six years have passed on the last Israeli war on Gaza and nothing has changed. Israeli occupation continues the killing of Palestinians in Gaza with no deterrence,” he said.

“The Israeli occupation is backed by the United States, and there is no serious international pressure that could stop Israeli crimes against Palestinians.”

Rajaa, however, said an international trial could help alleviate her suffering.

“The ICC’s investigation won’t bring back my murdered children, but it would achieve justice and punish Israel for its brutal crimes. This may heal part of our wounds,” she said, sobbing.

‘Lost in glimpse of an eye’

After moving to Turkey two years ago, Yousef Alhallaq has never forgotten his ordeal when he lost his family in an Israeli bombing of his apartment in 2014.

“We were living in the Shujayea neighbourhood. On July 20, 2014, the bloodiest day, we fled our home under the strong Israeli shelling on the neighbourhood, along with thousands of people, into the centre of the city,” the 28-year-old recounted. “It was a mass displacement.”

The densely populated neighbourhood of Shujayea was among the hardest hit when Israeli shelling killed 72 people and wounded more than 200 others. International rights groups have called the attack “a massacre”.

“We fled to my married sister’s apartment central of the Gaza City. The bomb hit directly,” Alhallaq said.

Seven members of Alhallaq’s family were killed in the explosion: his 64-year old mother, his sister and her two-year-old child and husband, his older brother’s nine-month pregnant wife, along with her two children, Kenan five years old and Saji three years old.

Yousef Alhallaq, 28, lost seven members of his family during the Israeli attack [Courtesy: Yousef Alhallaq]

Alhallaq’s father and his two brothers were wounded in the explosion.

“All I could remember is the scene of my mother, her body was bleeding under a cement column and my five-year-old nephew’s legs were seen from under the rubble. That moment, I realised that all of them were killed. I lost seven members of my family in a glimpse of an eye,” Alhallaq told Al Jazeera.

‘Open wound’

After four years, Alhallaq won a scholarship in Turkey and he left Gaza.

“Life keeps going but my injury is still open. I missed my mother’s smile in my graduation party and in my happiness when I won the scholarship. Every happiness or achievement is incomplete. It’s like to continue your life as if you’re blind,” he said.

As for the ICC investigation, Alhallaq said Israel should be held accountable.

“Israel killed seven of my family, three children among them, my elderly mother and my brother’s wife who was nine months pregnant. What is the justification of killing civilians?

“I ask the ICC to conduct a fair investigation on Israeli crimes committed in 2014 and after and to try Israeli officials who killed kids and women. There are whole families that were wiped out.”

According to the United Nations, 142 Palestinian families in Gaza had three or more members killed in single attacks during the Israeli offensive in 2014, with 742 fatalities.

‘They went to play’

Mohammad Bakr goes every day to the beach where his 10-year-old son, Ismail, was killed along with three cousins on July 16, 2014.

“It began when my son went to play football on the beach, close to our homes, along with three of my nephews,” the 59-year-old fisherman told Al Jazeera. “Suddenly we heard sounds of huge explosions and were informed that our sons were targeted on the beach.”

Ismail, 10, Zakaria, 10, Ahed, 9, and Mohammed, 11, were killed on the beach by Israeli navy vessels that fired three missiles at them.

“My brothers and I rushed to the hospitals. When I saw my child along with my nephews in the morgue, I was about to lose my mind,” said Bakr, his voice breaking.

As for the ICC’s investigation, Bakr and his family said Israel should be punished for its “crimes” under international law.

“They were just kids. They went to play because we do not have playing areas in our homes. It was a complete massacre committed in the daylight.”

Israel’s Preventive War Against Iran is About to Fail

Israel’s Preventive War Against Iran: Past Successes And Likely Future Failure – Analysis

INEGMAJuly 29, 2020

By Riad Kahwaji*

Iran has been experiencing a series of incidents that involved strategic sites which raised a great deal of speculations about its causes and who could be behind it. The targets have varied and included a nuclear installation and bases associated with Iran’s ballistic missiles program. Iranian authorities have not said much, and often found themselves compelled to report these incidents because of the images that were circulated on the social media by local witnesses. Many analysts and reporters quoting unnamed intelligence sources have blamed Israel for some of the attacks, especially the one against the Natanz nuclear installation where a facility that develops advanced centrifuge systems was blown up, an action that is believed to have set Iran’s nuclear program two years back. A close examination and study of the Israeli military doctrine provides a strong support to this analogy and also reveals that the world could be witnessing the start of an escalation that would test the viability of Israel’s long standing preventive war strategy and whether it can continue under current geopolitical conditions or lead to war.

Israel has since its independence adopted a clear military doctrine based on two principles: Preemptive strikes and preventative wars. Its small size and lack of geographical depth prompted its leaders to resort to an offensive strategy to bolster the country’s defense. This strategy sought to quickly transfer the battle to enemy territory and to end it swiftly in order to reduce risks to the home front. Bolstering early warning capabilities have been essential for Israel’s military doctrine. The open-ended military support and generous funding from the United States and other European powers have enabled Israel in a relatively short period of time to establish a qualitative edge vis-à-vis its Arab and non-Arab neighbors in the volatile Middle East region. Israel has been able after all these years to maintain a qualitative military superiority, which was also made possible through its own domestic defense industries. Israel produces and exports many defense and security systems, especially in the field of cyber warfare.

While a preemptive strike is a military operation to deal with an imminent threat, a preventative war is a series of military and political actions to tackle a future threat, usually to delay it. Throughout its history Israel has carried out preemptive strikes and preventative wars on more than one occasion. But the most noteworthy were the ones that dealt with programs to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by Israel’s adversaries. On such occasions Israel resorted to covert operations before it launched its overt military operations. Best example on this was the Iraqi Osiraq nuclear reactor. Before eight Israeli warplanes launched a successful preemptive strike on June 7, 1981, destroying the reactor, Israeli agents succeeded in sabotaging the plutonium reactor core when it was still in France. This only delayed the program and Israeli political pressure could not sway France from delivering the reactor to Iraq, and hence was the air raid.

The Osiraq raid marked the start of what several Israeli researchers and military strategists refer to as “the Begin Doctrine” – named after late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Former Israeli deputy national security advisor retired General Shlomo Brom wrote that after the Osiraq attack the Israeli government went on to adopt a general preventive doctrine: “Under no circumstances would we allow the enemy to develop weapons of mass destruction against our nation; we will defend Israel’s citizens, in time, with all the means at our disposal.” (http://www.npolicy.org/books/Nuclear_Armed_Iran/Ch6_Brom.pdf) This preventive doctrine was implemented again in 2007 against a clandestine nuclear facility in Syria. The Israeli forces carried out Operation Orchard against the Syrian Al-Kibar nuclear reactor and plutonium refinement facility. The Syrian regime opted to keep quiet about the Israeli attack to avoid exposing its covert nuclear collaboration with Iran and North Korea.

The Israeli way of dealing with Iran’s nuclear program has not been any different. Israel appears determined to apply the preventive doctrine, but so far has resorted to covert operations, which many believe have started a decade ago. The Israeli first strike was in the form of a cyberattack. A cyber weapon known by analysts as Stuxnet – a malware designed to infiltrate and damage systems run by computers – hit the Iranian nuclear program in 2010 causing great deal of damage and setting it back by few years (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/stuxnet-was-work-of-us-and-israeli-experts-officials-say/2012/06/01/gJQAlnEy6U_story.html). Stuxnet is widely believed to have been developed jointly by U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies. Between 2010 and 2012, four leading Iranian nuclear scientists were targeted in separate attacks in Tehran with only one surviving ssassination (https://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/11/world/meast/iran-who-kills-scientists/index.html). Right at the same period a big explosion rocked the Shahid Modarres missile base in Iran on November 12, 2011, killing 17 people including the key architect of the Iranian ballistic missiles program Major General Hassan Moqaddam (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/14/iran-missile-death-mossad-mission). Many defense and security analysts associate Iran’s nuclear program with its ballistic missiles program. Therefore, covert attacks in a 2-year span proved sufficient to delay the Iranian nuclear program, thus meeting the objective of the Israeli preventive war.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) treaty reached between Tehran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany over Iran’s controversial nuclear program in 2015 slowed down the uranium enrichment activities and put a cap on how much low enriched uranium Iran can possess. But after President Donald Trump pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018, Iran started in late 2019 a series of retaliatory steps in the form of increasing level of enrichment and removing the cap on quantity of enriched uranium. This raised concern that Iran, could with advanced centrifuge systems and renewed enrichment activities acquire enough material to build a bomb within a year. This is possibly what prompted a new wave of covert operations in line with Israel’s preventive war against Iran’s nuclear program. It is not yet clear whether the operation against Natanz was a cyberattack or a bomb-attack or maybe both. However, it is clear from initial reports it achieved the objective of delaying the program (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/05/world/middleeast/iran-Natanz-nuclear-damage.html).

Nevertheless, the number of incidents at various sensitive Iranian facilities along with frequent Israeli strikes against bases affiliated with Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and their allied militias in Syria indicate that a much bigger objective is sought from a preventative war that appears to be underway. It is not yet known how the possible Israeli sabotage operations are being carried out inside Iran, whether by commandos units or via local opposition groups such as Mujahiden-e-Khalq (MEK). The MEK regained momentum under the Trump Administration and was removed from terrorists’ groups list and has become highly active on the international scene. The continued attacks are undermining the Iranian regime image as a strong and impenetrable force. This comes at a time Iran is facing acute socio-economic difficulties caused by strong U.S. sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit Iran very hard. Iran has been witnessing sporadic riots in numerous parts of the country by people protesting rising cost of living and high unemployment. Hitting infrastructure, causing blackouts and fuel shortages and tarnishing the regime’s image and posture could wreak havoc onto the Iranian economy and increase instability. If such incidents (attacks) continue much longer, they could lead to major internal unrest with Iran possibly imploding from within and the regime seriously undermined.

Iran’s assets abroad are also under attack, especially in Syria. Israel has been using its air force and cruise missiles to strike IRGC units and Iranian-backed militias such as Hezbollah in Syria. The Israeli attacks appear aimed at degrading the military capability of Iran and its allied militiamen by destroying arms depots and advanced weapons, especially air defense systems and highly accurate ballistic missiles. This is yet another classic example of a preventive war aimed at denying the adversary the ability to attack effectively. The most recent Israel Defense Forces Strategy Document released in 2015 by Chief of Staff General Gadi Eizenkot did not use the terms of preemptive strikes or preventive war (https://www.belfercenter.org/israel-defense-forces-strategy-document#!chapter-iii). Instead it referred to what it called “Routine” deployment of force, or the campaign between wars (CBW). The CBW is a military operation “aimed at reducing the enemy’s freedom of action and increasing Israel’s freedom of action.” In other words the CBW is meant to exert a big toll on the adversary and erode its deterrence posture. However, the big question here is whether the Israeli CBW approach against Iran in Syria is working? Also, how is it affecting Hezbollah status in Lebanon? Iran and Hezbollah seem to see the Lebanese theater as an extension to the Syrian theater of operations in any future showdown with Israel.

Iran seems to have chosen to ignore the strikes in Syria to avoid a confrontation while it is not fully prepared. It is instead focusing on building qualitative capabilities in air defense and precision strike force. Iran’s strategy is to play for time and to take advantage of the vacuum on the Syrian theater to assert itself and grow its capabilities. Tehran and the Syrian regime recently signed a new defense cooperation pact, granting Iranian military involvement in Syria a political cover. In addition to its unabated efforts to sneak in advanced weapon systems, Iran has been massing more fighters from its allied Iraqi and Afghani militiamen in Syria in addition to few thousand highly-trained fighters from Lebanese Hezbollah. Iran appears to be buying time awaiting results of the US elections before it decides its next move. Building forces in Syria and Lebanon will only enhance its deterrence and offensive capability vis-à-vis Israel. At one point Iran hopes to be able to have strong air defenses in Syria to challenge Israeli air dominance and to have precision long range missiles to accurately hit any target in Israel, including sensitive sites like the Dimona nuclear facility.

Therefore, both Israel and Iran are seeking to gain time but for different goals: Israel is hoping that the economic and political pressure campaign led by U.S. maximum pressure policy coupled with CBW strategy in Syria would with time weaken the Iranian regime and compel it to either make concessions or collapse. Iran in turn is hoping that with time some positive political changes could be brought about through U.S. elections and that its forces would have grown stronger on Israel’s northern borders and its nuclear and missile programs made more progress. While Israel appears to have now the upper hand in carrying out offensive operations, it is Iran’s capabilities that appear to be growing stronger: More Iranian weapons continue to make their way into Syria (and possibly Lebanon) despite continued Israeli attacks, and more enriched uranium is accumulated despite U.S. maximum pressure policy and sabotage operations. So the question that presents itself is whether Israel’s preventive war against Iran is meeting its long-term objectives? Based on how much stronger has Iran grown militarily over the past decade the answer would be: Unlikely.

Israel is facing a serious dilemma in dealing with Iran. Its geographical size is way too small compared to Iran. While Israel needs to have its jetfighters travel more than 1000 kilometers over unfriendly territories to strike Iran, the IRGC and their proxies are now right on Israel’s northern borders and can hit it with simple Katyusha rockets, and maybe in few months would have more advanced precision firepower. It is worth noting that some Palestinian Islamic parties like Hamas and Islamic Jihad based in Gaza Strip (south of Israel) are also strong allies of Iran and could be seen joining an all-out Iranian offensive on Israel. Hence, Iran can withstand a military showdown with Israel with conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, while Israel would face large-scale destruction and losses that could amount to existential threat.

Thus Israel could soon be facing the inevitable decision of moving from CBW status to a war to uproot Iran and its proxies from its northern borders. But if Iran decides to step in and engage Israel directly using its large arsenal of ballistic missiles in addition to its proxy forces in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, then Israel would need the United States and other players to join in. If Iran was to succeed in building its capabilities on Israel’s northern borders with effective air defenses and accurate long range missiles, then Israel would be in serious trouble because Tehran would be able to inflict heavy damages onto Israel without having to fire any missiles from its territories.

A war to remove the IRGC and their proxies from Syria and Lebanon would require an Israeli land invasion of territories in both countries, extensive air campaign and heavy caliber diplomatic moves on many fronts to improve chances of success. Israel will likely suffer heavy losses on battlefield and the home front and the collateral damage in targeted areas in Syria and Lebanon would be huge, which means the decision to wage such a war would have to be very well thought of and calculated. Perhaps all political and diplomatic efforts must be exhausted to the extreme and new ideas must be considered to settle the differences with Iran before seeking the war option. Therefore, when it comes to Iran the era of successful Israeli preemptive strikes and preventive wars seem to be losing effect or coming to an end with the changing political landscape and evolving military technology.

*Riad Kahwaji, is the founder and director of INEGMA with a 30 years of experience as a journalist and a Middle East security analyst.