Provoking Iran is a strategy to distract from the ongoing slaughter of civilians in Gaza.

by Stephen Zunes, The Progressive

Israel’s April 1 attack on Iranian diplomatic facilities in Damascus, Syria, and Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel less than two weeks later has resulted in no winners—and opened the door to a wider, more disastrous war.

The initial Israeli attack killed top commanders of the Quds Force, the notorious foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which have led Iran’s proxy forces in Syria and Iraq and have worked closely with the Lebanese Hezbollah. Although there are certainly victims of Iranian military operations who are not sorry for the commanders’ demise, diplomatic facilities are, legally speaking, the sovereign territory of the country they represent. Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus was, therefore, an attack on Iran.

and Israeli jet loaded with bombs flies above the desert

While the Biden Administration and Congressional leaders have roundly condemned Iran’s strikes against Israel, virtually none seem to acknowledge that Israel struck first. This is particularly ironic in light of the U.S. obsession with Iranians violating the sanctity of U.S. diplomatic facilities when a state-sanctioned mob seized the United States Embassy in Iran in 1979. Even though they illegally held American hostages for 444 days, no one was killed.

For decades, Israel has been engaged in a shadow war with Iran, which—despite being more than 600 miles from Israel—has emerged as its most dangerous adversary. Assassinations of Iranian military leaders, intelligence officials, and nuclear scientists, cyberwarfare, and other attacks, were met with both inflammatory rhetoric from Iran, as well as support for Hezbollah and other militant groups that would occasionally engage in military confrontations with Israel.

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