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Israel’s security chiefs fear possible Iran war

Israel’s defense sector lauded the killing of Qasem Soleimani, but is bracing for an aggressive reaction by Iran and an escalation of regional tensions.
TEHRAN, IRAN - SEPTEMBER 18 : Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani attends Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's (not seen) meeting with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran on September 18, 2016. (Photo by Pool / Press Office of Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Israel views the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani as restoring US deterrence in the Middle East in one fell swoop — deterrence that had eroded over the past two years to the point that it was almost nonexistent. Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the commander of the Israel Defense Forces, even took the liberty of voicing veiled criticism in a Dec. 25 speech, saying Israel was acting alone against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “Tonight, they suddenly made a comeback,” a senior Israeli source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al-Monitor. “The Americans are signaling that they are still around and no one should mess with them. This is excellent news.”

An indescribable sense of satisfaction and elation filled the halls of power in Israel after news emerged of the assassination. In the morning hours of Jan. 3, senior political and defense figures had to bite down hard and practice tremendous restraint to avoid flooding the web with triumphant announcements and messages of congratulation to President Donald Trump. Why? Because Israel knows full well the extent to which this historic and strategic event has brought the entire region closer to war. IDF Chief of Staff Kochavi had already warned of such a scenario in his speech last week.

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