Commentary. In an instant, the tensions, real or alleged, generated by Israeli restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, the recent killing of seven members of the World Central Kitchen NGO and the Israeli intention to attack the city of Rafah vanished without a trace.

Iran’s response to the Israeli strikes is bringing Bibi closer to Biden

Will Tehran carry out its retaliation in response to Israel’s bloody air raid on its consulate in Damascus – which killed, among others, a senior Pasdaran commander, Mohammad Reza Zahedi – by attacking Israel from its territory, or will it avoid providing Benyamin Netanyahu with the pretext he has been seeking for 20 years to attack Iran’s nuclear power plants, along with the United States? That was everyone’s question as the media reported on the impending new escalation in the Middle East. On Friday night, people thought it was the beginning of Iranian retaliation when warning sirens went off in northern Israel. Instead, the alarms had gone off after 40 rockets were fired by the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement, all of which were shot down or fell in open areas.

The Wall Street Journal wrote on Friday that the Iranian response to the Israeli airstrike on Damascus is expected to come “within the next 24-48 hours.” Citing “two U.S. officials,” CBS reported that this could involve more than 100 drones and dozens of missiles aimed at military targets. Other sources are saying Tehran has let the Americans know that it will only respond in a way that will not trigger an all-out war. Such a scenario suggests an attack not conducted from its own territory, but from multiple points in the region, carried out by allied armed groups. The Islamic Republic is convinced that Israel is doing everything possible to drag it into a war, and has discussed this with a number of Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, which reportedly urged Tehran to be cautious. However, according to Axios, Iran does not fear open conflict at all, and only wants to avoid the entry of the United States into the fray – which is why it is said to have warned the U.S. not to get involved or U.S. forces in the region will be attacked.

Amid all this uncertainty, the only clear facts are that the Israeli Home Front Command has not told civilians to prepare for missile attacks and stand ready to go to shelters, as it always does in such circumstances, and that the tensions between Tel Aviv and Tehran immediately restored the close relations between the Biden Administration and Benyamin Netanyahu. In an instant, the tensions, real or alleged, generated by Israeli restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, the recent killing of seven members of the World Central Kitchen NGO and the Israeli intention to attack the city of Rafah where more than a million displaced Palestinians are amassed, vanished without a trace. “We are certainly mindful of a very public and what we consider to be a very credible threat made by Iran in terms of potential attacks on Israel,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on Friday, and added that the U.S. is “doing everything we can to make sure that Israel can defend itself,” reiterating what Washington had said in recent days through Secretary of State Blinken. The U.S. administration is ready to go to war alongside Israel. Also on Friday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant met with U.S. CENTCOM commander Michael Kurilla, whom he thanked for supporting Israel: “Our enemies think that they will divide Israel and the United States,” Gallant said, but instead “they are connecting us and are strengthening the relationship between us.” Shortly afterwards, the announcement came that the U.S. will send reinforcements to the Middle East in the form of manpower and equipment.

Several countries are now advising their citizens against traveling to Israel and Iran, while the most likely scenario is still a showdown between Hezbollah and Israel, perhaps in the coming weeks. The number of evacuees from southern Lebanon, hammered by Israeli shelling, is increasing day by day, and Hezbollah is struggling to support them with donations and funding; while on the other side of the border, in upper Galilee, the 80,000 Israelis who have had to leave their homes are pressing for the war cabinet to solve the “Lebanon problem” once and for all – that is, with a large military operation similar to the one that reduced Gaza to rubble. Such a plan has the support of a number of ministers and cabinet members. In northern Israel, people are preparing for war: some are stocking up on food and water, others are buying small autonomous electricity generators. Others are planning to go south, as happened in 2006 during the first open war between Israel and Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the Netanyahu government has launched the “Northern Shield” plan to protect and rehabilitate settlements along the border, now largely abandoned.

In recent days, the situation in Gaza has been downplayed by the media as never before. However, the Israeli offensive is not over and is no less deadly than before: only the facade has changed. Friday brought news of more deaths and injuries. Israel said it killed two more Hamas figures, while the Palestinians also reported civilian casualties. The international discourse remains fixated on humanitarian aid to the population; the U.S. says Israel is now doing what it had pledged to do regarding opening a new crossing in the north, near Zikim, for the entry of basic necessities into Gaza. However, on Friday, none of the U.N.-planned humanitarian missions were allowed to enter northern Gaza, according to a complaint by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Turkish TV station TRT reported that Israeli forces opened fire against the Salhi Towers in Nuseirat, injuring some of its journalists, one of whom, Sami Shahada, had to have a leg amputated.

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