According to a report released by the New York Times, unnamed Israeli officials have admitted Tel Aviv’s role in the assassination of an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) member. With Iran vowing revenge, how may this add to the threat of war this Sunday when Israeli settlers attempt to desecrate Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem?
The assassination of an IRGC member, Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, a colonel in the elite Quds Force, has opened up a new chapter of escalation between Tel Aviv and Tehran. The assassination was described by Iranian officials as a “terrorist attack”. Israel was reportedly attempting to send a message to Tehran with this killing, which is likely to have been masterminded by Israeli Mossad and carried out with MEK group terrorists on the ground in Tehran.
Instead of weakening Iran however, the assassination of Khodaei has only seemed to have brought Iranians closer and has proven a point about the lifestyles led by members of the Quds Force. Whilst Iranian opposition media groups, like Iran International and BBC Persian, attempt to portray high-ranking IRGC members involved in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Palestine, as being rich and leading luxurious life styles, Khodaei has proven this incorrect. It was clear from the vehicle and home, of Colonel Khodaei, that he was not living a luxurious lifestyle and was instead leading a modest life. Additionally, Israel’s involvement in the attack further proves why Iran must develop its defense strategies as it is consistently doing.
Iran vows to take revenge, as it did for the murder of two Iranian nationals in Syria earlier this year, which led to the bombardment of Israeli Mossad positions in northern Iraq. The difference here is that this killing took place on Iranian soil, leading many to speculate that Tehran may chose to strike Israeli forces in occupied Palestine or the occupied Golan Heights.
In addition to this, Israeli provocations set to occur this Sunday may ignite tensions much greater than the IRGC’s planned response. An Israeli settler extremist “flag march” is set to take a provocative route this Sunday, through the old city of Jerusalem. In response to this, the Joint Room of Palestinian resistance factions, based in the Gaza Strip, have threatened an overwhelming reaction and conveyed the message, through intermediaries, that war will occur if Israel goes too far.
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the ruling Hamas party in the Gaza Strip, vowed to fire 1111 rockets into Israel as part of the first move in any upcoming war. He also threatened Israel that any major provocation will lead to an overwhelming response, the likes of which Tel Aviv has never experienced before.
Although rocket fire from Gaza is certainly of concern to Israel, what came next was potentially much more significant. The Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, during his speech to commemorate the ‘Lebanese Liberation Day’ of 2000 — when the Lebanese resistance forced Israel to withdraw from occupying South Lebanon — he vowed that any desecration of Holy Sites in Jerusalem on Sunday will lead to a “regional explosion”:
“This action will provoke all the Arabs and Islamic peoples; every free person, every resistant person, every freedom fighter. Hence, they must know that if they persist in aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Holy Shrines in the city of Jerusalem, this will lead to a massive explosion in the region, in addition to unfavourable consequences [for Israel]”.
This threat has been one that the Hezbollah leader has spoken about developing for the past year, since the end of the last war on Gaza during May, 2021. A regional war against Israel could be extremely costly for Tel Aviv, which will face an alliance that has formed between Hezbollah, Ansarallah, the Popular Mobilisation Units, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and all the other Palestinian armed factions. We can now also add Iran to the list of potential adversaries that may strike Israel.
Israel is adamant that its far-right settler extremist “flag march” persist with its provocative route this Sunday, even against the wishes of the United States government that has warned them to change the route of the march. Given Israel’s insistence on provoking a Palestinian response, at the very least, it is only reasonable that we conclude the regime is seeking out war at this stage. However, the question that is now to be answered is who exactly will respond to Israel’s provocations and how far will they go? Could we see missiles and drones from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza, all striking Israel?