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How can Israel respond to Iran’s brazen attack?

After an unprecedented Iranian attempt to attack Israel with over 300 drones and missiles, attention has turned to how Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will respond.


After Iran’s attack on Israel was largely thwarted by the country’s defenses and key allies, attention has turned to how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could choose to respond.

"The fact that the Iranian attack was a total failure does not detract even an ounce from Israel’s obligation to retaliate against Iran for its direct act of aggression," Jonathan Conricus, a former spokesman for the IDF and senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), focused on the Middle East, told Fox News Digital.

The comments come after Iran launched over 300 missiles and drones from its own territory at Israel on Saturday, an attack that Israel claims was largely beaten back by its sophisticated defenses and the help of allies in the region.

But the brazen Iranian attempt has opened up questions about how Israel may choose to respond, even amid reports that the Biden administration has urged Netanyahu to show restraint in a bid to prevent an escalating conflict in the Middle East.

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"It’s hard to conceive of a world in which Israel responds to Iran’s crossing of redlines by merely absorbing Tehran’s missile and drone strikes. It’s even harder to think of such a world in a post-October 7 Middle East," Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at FDD focused on Iranian security, told Fox News Digital. "Despite two decades of alarm ringing over the Iranian nuclear program, Israel has thus far not overtly attacked Tehran’s nuclear program. One wonders the degree to which this may change as Israel prepares its response."

According to a report from the Jerusalem Post, such an attack on Iran’s nuclear capabilities has been the subject of years of planning, with the potential for a response to feature F-35 stealth fighter jets that would hit sites across Iran as far away as 1,200 miles from Israel.

The aim of such an attack would be to eliminate Iran’s air defenses, the report notes, paving the way for the Israeli military to strike at nuclear facilities hand-picked by the country’s intelligence.

But Israel would likely need to make sure its plans garner U.S. support, Conricus argued, adding that military strikes would not be the only option on the table.

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"Israel has various long range capabilities to choose from, but what Israel has to ensure is U.S. support or at least approval, and to clarify the strategic objectives that it’s aiming for," Conricus said. "Israel could retaliate against the Iranian military nuclear program or against its economic infrastructure, ports and refineries, depending on which strategic objective it wants to achieve."

Overnight, Israeli forces pummeled Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in a barrage of airstrikes Sunday. Those attacks targeted a Hezbollah weapons manufacturing facility and other targets, the IDF said.

"A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck a number of military structures in a complex belonging to Hezbollah's Radwan Forces in the area of Jbaa in southern Lebanon," Israeli forces said in a statement. "Earlier during the night, IDF fighter jets struck Hezbollah military structures in the areas of Khiam and Kfarkela."

According to the Jerusalem Post report, the wave of Israeli F-35s into Iran would likely be followed by separate waves of F-15 eagles, F-16 fighting falcons, and more heavily loaded F-35s carrying loads that could potentially penetrate deep into the ground to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities.

IRAN CLAIMS TO FOLLOW DRONE LAUNCH AT ISRAEL WITH BALLISTIC MISSILE BARRAGE

Israel could also use its own stockpile of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and attack drones, the report notes.

While such an attack has been gamed out, Taleblu argued that it is unclear whether Israel would opt for such a dramatic response.

"Despite two decades of alarm ringing over the Iranian nuclear program, Israel has thus far not overtly attacked Tehran’s nuclear program," Taleblu said. "One wonders the degree to which this may change as Israel prepares its response."

Speaking with CNN Sunday, retired Gen. David Petraeus noted that Israel will have plenty of options if it chooses to launch a response, including both overt and covert military actions.

"They can pursue asymmetric attacks, cyberspace and so forth," Petraeus said. "And keep in mind that, of course, Washington is meeting with the other G7 countries to determine what kind of diplomatic and economic responses should follow in a coordinated effort as well."

But whatever Israel decides, Taleblu said that any plan will have to to come to a "theory of the case for victory."

"Would it be going for a decapitation strike against regime leadership, a defanging strike against the regime’s long-range strike assets, or military bases, or a punishment strike that could perhaps target the energy and oil sectors, which is the financial lifeblood of the Islamic Republic," Taleblu said.

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