Israel was on alert Wednesday for retaliatory strikes by Iran and its proxies for the attack widely attributed to Israel that demolished Iran’s consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus and killed seven, including two Iranian generals.

   Iran’s state TV reported Tuesday that the country’s Supreme National Security Council, a key decision-making body, met late Monday and decided on a “required” response to the strike. The report said the meeting was chaired by President Ebrahim Raisi, but provided no further details.

   Israel has repeatedly targeted military officials from Iran, which supports militant groups fighting Israel in Gaza, and along its border with Lebanon. Monday’s strike in Damascus signaled an escalation because it struck an Iranian diplomatic mission.

   It was not clear if Iran would respond itself, risking a dangerous confrontation with Israel and its ally the United States, or if it would continue to rely on proxies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

   The airstrike Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who led the elite Quds Force in Lebanon and Syria until 2016, according to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. It also killed Zahedi’s deputy, Gen. Mohammad Hadi Hajriahimi, and five other officers.

   Hezbollah said Tuesday that Zahedi played a crucial role in helping “develop and advance the work” of the group in Lebanon.

   “This crime will certainly not pass without the enemy receiving punishment and revenge,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

   No response had been launched as of Wednesday morning.

   Monday’s strike on Damascus “is a significant escalation and risks tipping an already volatile, unstable region into full-scale war,” Dana Stroul, formerly the Pentagon’s top Middle East policy official who is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, tells The New York Times.

   Because the attack was aimed at an embassy compound and killed a top commander,  Iran considered it an attack on its sovereign territory under international law, according to CNN.

   For its part, Israel, which has not claimed responsibility for the attack, insisted that the target was a “military building.”

   “This is no consulate, and this is no embassy,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told CNN.

   Experts say retaliation in the form of a direct Iranian attack on Israel is unlikely because it would be met by attacks on Iranian soil and could pull the U.S. into a regional war, experts say.

   Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza nearly six months ago, Iran’s proxies have stepped up attacks, leading to near daily cross-border exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel, and frequent Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping. Hamas, which rules Gaza and attacked Israel on Oct. 7, is also backed by Iran.

   Israel has grown increasingly impatient with the daily exchanges of fire with Hezbollah, which have escalated in recent days, and warned of the possibility of a full-fledged war. Houthi rebels have also been launching long-range missiles toward Israel, including on Monday.

   Iran’s official news agency IRNA said Tuesday that Iran relayed an important message to the United States late Monday and that it called for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. The message to Washington was delivered through a Swiss envoy in Tehran; Switzerland looks after U.S. interests in Iran.

   IRNA said Iran holds the United States, Israel’s closest ally, responsible for the strike.

Share This