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What’s holding up Israeli retaliation against Iran and what are its options?

Israel is in a state of rage after the missile and drone attack by Iran, yet for the moment it seems that no decision has been made on possible military retaliation.
Members of the Israeli military show an Iranian ballistic missile which fell in Israel on the weekend, during a media tour at the Julis military base near the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Malachi on April 16, 2024. Iran carried out an unprecedented direct attack on Israel overnight April 13-14, using more than 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, in retaliation for a deadly April 1 air strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus. Nearly all were intercepted, according to the Israeli army.

TEL AVIV — Tensions were at fever pitch in Israel and the region on Tuesday as Israel’s war cabinet deliberated for a third day regarding its response to Iran's April 13 missile and drone offensive

While Israel’s military and political leadership emphasized that retaliation was in the pipeline, its timing, place and nature are a subject of intense speculation. According to senior Israeli officials, it is not inconceivable that the response will ultimately be directed at Iranian forces or their proxies outside Iran itself.

Messages have been conveyed since Sunday to Israel’s partners, including some in the Gulf, promising that the Israeli response would not endanger them and not provide Iran with an excuse to attack them. In other words, Israel apparently has no reason to use its allies’ airspace to attack Iran.

The speculation over the nature of the response is in glaring contrast to the certainty over Iran’s attack, its form and timing. The preliminary intelligence was precise and detailed, although the intensity of the barrage — 331 launches — was slightly higher than expected. 

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