Point-blank: Iranian missiles

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 23 Apr 2024

I disagree with those who have criticised Iran’s retaliation against Israel for its strike against the Iranian consulate in Damascus.


The missiles that Iran fired caused no loss in life, but was the aim to kill civilians inside Israel? Of course not. The Iranian operation had a political import, above all. It delivered the message to Tel Aviv that it could easily strike deep inside Israel if it wanted.

Israel certainly understood the implicit threat and while the government may have tried to downplay it, Israeli citizens will remain uneasy now that they have had proof that an Iranian missile could conceivably reach them in their homes. Hopefully, the awareness of that potential threat might induce the Israeli public to rein in the ultra-right and ultra-bellicose Netanyahu government.  

Another unmistakable message delivered by the Iranian strike was that any Israeli attack against Iranian facilities will meet with an immediate response and that the next response will be stronger.

It is also important to bear in mind that, although Iran had given the US advance notice of the strike, it made it clear that it was not asking permission. Nor did Washington’s threats deter it from exercising its legitimate right to retaliate against the Israeli strike against its consulate compound which, under international legal norms, is considered sovereign Iranian territory. 

The Iranian strike also told Israel that it cannot attack others left and right, while depending on Washington to keep others from answering back.

In a meeting with foreign ambassadors to Tehran on Sunday after the strike, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian described Tehran’s response against Israel as “certain, legitimate, and irrevocable,” and stressed that his country would not hesitate to defend its interests against any further aggression.

Critics are mistaken if they think this was a military operation and that it failed because it did not inflict significant military losses on Israel. This was a consummately political response. It merely used missiles for the purpose. While the missiles were mounted with explosive charges, their political messages were more potent and very explicit.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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