Wednesday’s terrorist attacks in Jerusalem might lead Iran to try to operationalize its proxies, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and threaten Israel by exploiting the attacks.

Last week, Iran attacked a commercial ship in the Gulf of Oman using a drone flown from Chabahar. Iran has also threatened US forces in Iraq and attacked Kurdish opposition groups there. In the wake of the attacks in Jerusalem, Islamic Jihad – an Iranian proxy that operates in Damascus, the West Bank and Gaza – praised the bombings.

The attacks in Jerusalem came amid Iran-related tensions in the region that are already high. In addition to Iran’s attack in the Gulf of Oman, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday about “new details about the assassination of a senior leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps militia in Rif Dimashq yesterday.”

The report said that “according to SOHR sources, Col. Daoud Jafari, an expert on drones and air defenses, and his companion were assassinated on Tuesday when their vehicle was hit by an IED [improvised explosive device] near the Al-Sayyida Zeinab area, south of Damascus.” This is important and comes amid increasing drone threats by Iran as well as the use of Iranian drones by Russia in Ukraine.

Over the past few years, Israel has sought to focus on confronting the Islamic Jihad threat, launching operation Black Belt in November 2019.

A year after the operation, the IDF said, “The operation was an intelligence and operational achievement that continues to hinder the capabilities of Islamic Jihad today.” During Black Belt, Russia criticized Israel’s actions, with Russia’s Foreign Ministry going as far as to accuse Israel of conducting airstrikes in Damascus.
May 2021 conflict with Hamas

In May 2021, Israel and Hamas fought for 11 days in what became known as Operation Guardian of the Walls. Iran sought to fuel that conflict as well, through incitement about tensions in Jerusalem and encouraging Hamas to fire huge salvos of rockets. Iran also was behind the flying of a drone targeting Israel from Iraq.

Over the past week, reports have circulated that Iran is increasing enrichment of uranium as tensions continue to rise in Syria. It is in this context that Iran might exploit the recent attacks.

Iran has, in the past, used Israel’s political uncertainty to launch conflicts. For instance, the May 2021 conflict came after Iran exploited the vacuum of power caused by Israel’s elections as well as amid Ramadan. Nowadays, while Israel is transitioning from one government to another, Iran might assume it can exploit the current situation as it has the others.

Islamic Jihad and Hamas are the main channels Iran is seeking to establish a military front against Israel, close to Jerusalem. However, Iran also has proxies in Lebanon, such as Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, the Hashd al-Sha’abi Shi’ite militias in Iraq as well as multiple fronts in Syria.

Iran’s Fars News highlighted the bombings but did not say much more, possibly to make it look appear as if Israel is vulnerable. While Islamic Jihad praised the attacks, Hamas placed the blame on Israel.
Iran could use Jeruslem terror attack to stoke tensions

As such, Iran might try to stoke more tensions or encourage Islamic Jihad to carry out attacks. It might also try to create tensions that inflame the West Bank or Gaza. This year has already seen a large number of clashes between Israel and Palestinian militants in the West Bank.

Iran is certainly watching this keenly and wondering how it can benefit from it. Iran is also interested in a distraction from the protests at home. That is why it is threatening ships, seeking to provide the Houthis with smuggled rocket fuel, and threatening Kurds in Iraq and the US in Syria.

Source » jpost