It’s easy to dismiss the latest round of violence between Israel and its enemies as business as usual. After all, this tit-for-tat dynamic, which is a feature of Israel’s long shadow war with Iran and its allies in the Palestinian territories, Syria, and Lebanon, has been going on for many years.
But there seems to be something different about Israel’s kinetic operations of late. More than ever, Israel has been lethal, surgical, consistent, bold, and transparent about its military actions.
What has prompted this new Israeli propensity for taking higher risks? Are we entering a new phase in the conflict with Iran? Have the chances of a multi-front war substantially increased?
A pattern of escalation
The cycle of violence between Israel and Iran has escalated in recent days and weeks.
Advanced comms equipment, radar batteries, parts & chips to upgrade air defense systems -- all run by the #IRGC's Quds Force, mostly thru #Aleppo Airport.#Israel's intel on the shipments was so specific they knew which trucks to hit in which convoys. https://t.co/dzpRkx1Pcj— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) April 12, 2023
On 22 March, the Israeli Air Force hit Syria’s Aleppo airport for the third time in six months, causing material damage to the facility but no casualties.
Two weeks earlier three people were killed in a similar Israeli strike on the airport, which has been a major conduit for relief flights since a 6 February earthquake devastated large parts of southeastern Turkey and neighbouring Syria. Israel believes that Iran has been using the airport to transfer arms to the Syrian regime.
On 30 March, Israel launched air strikes around Damascus, killing two Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) officers. A few days later, Israel conducted mass arrests inside the Al Aqsa Mosque and raided Hamas in Gaza.
Israeli forces have wounded dozens of Palestinian worshippers in an overnight raid inside the Al Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem during the second week of Ramadan.
But this is not the first time Israeli troops have launched violent raids within the complex during Ramadan pic.twitter.com/ncfPqUzUwW— TRT World (@trtworld) April 5, 2023
Shortly after, Palestinian militants responded by firing 34 rockets from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, with four landing in Israeli territory and injuring at least three people.
On 8 April, pro-Iran Palestinian fighters lobbed rockets into Israel from positions in the Golan Heights. They tried to launch similar attacks against Eilat in southern Israel from the Sinai Peninsula, but the Egyptian army is believed to have thwarted their attempts (a day before that, Israel downed a Hezbollah quadcopter surveillance drone that crossed into northern Israel).