Will Israel attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2022?

Occupied Jerusalem- Iran poses a series of long and short-term challenges to Israel. At the strategic level, Tehran’s nuclear project, along with its precision missile program, has become the focus of Israel’s security establishment, describing it as an exceptional strategic threat to its national security.

With the resumption of the Vienna negotiations aimed at returning to the nuclear agreement concluded between Iran and the world powers in 2015, which former US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018, the Israeli government headed by Naftali Bennett intensified its regional and international diplomatic efforts to thwart a return to the previous agreement and to obstruct reaching a temporary agreement.

The rhetoric escalated between Tel Aviv and Tehran, which threatened to strike sensitive security sites in Israel in the event of a military strike, while the Israeli security establishment came out and threatened that it would target Iranian nuclear facilities, at a time when Tel Aviv is trying to persuade America to adopt the military option against Tehran.

The graduation of the largest regiment of Israeli pilots at the end of 2021, as Tel Aviv bets on the Air Force to strike Iran (Al-Jazeera)

Why does Israel fear Iran and what challenges does it consider a threat to its national security?

On the regional scene, Iran has deepened its presence and influence over the past decade in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

An assessment of the position of the National Security Research Center at Tel Aviv University shows that the focus in the future will be on Israel’s need to deal with Iran’s continued entrenchment in Syria and Lebanon, and the possibility of a direct military confrontation between them in these arenas.

At the same time, there is a possibility of creating an Iranian threat from western Iraq, by arming the Iraqi militias loyal to Tehran with the precision missile system, which can strike deep inside Israel.

The Iranian nuclear project comes in the depth of the challenges that Tehran poses to Tel Aviv, and is the most prominent for Israel during the next year, according to an analysis by researchers at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies, Eldad Shapet and Sima Shine.

What are Tel Aviv’s options to confront the Iranian nuclear program?

Over the years we have learned, says political analyst Akiva Eldar, that when a politician or a general declares that “all options are on the table,” he is in fact referring to only one option: the military.

Ostensibly, Eldar adds, “This is the only option for Israel if negotiations with Iran do not result in a nuclear agreement that satisfies the political level in Tel Aviv.”

He explains that the sanctions did not bring the Iranians to their knees, and the targeting of Iranian facilities and the mysterious assassinations of scientists did not stop Tehran from enriching uranium.

In the face of US President Joe Biden’s approach of refraining from clashing and confrontation in the Middle East, Israel may find itself alone before the option of launching a direct military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, no matter what this would cost it in terms of human and material losses, and damage to its foreign relations.

Israel seeks to manufacture more Iron Dome system in preparation for an attack on Iran (Al-Jazeera)

Will Israel attack Iran’s nuclear facilities?

At a time when international efforts to reach an agreement between Tehran and Washington to return to the nuclear agreement continue, Tel Aviv has escalated its threats to launch a military strike on the Iranian project, despite acknowledging that the Israeli army is not currently ready to launch such a strike.

Regardless of any agreement reached between Tehran and Washington, Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman says conflict is inevitable and the only way to prevent Iran from reaching a nuclear capability.

In statements to the Walla website, Lieberman said that the confrontation with Iran is “only a matter of time” and not much time, “and no diplomatic process or agreement on Iran’s nuclear program will stop.”

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi with Air Force pilots (Al-Jazeera)

How serious are the Israeli threats?

The Israeli Air Force announced that, by 2022, it will begin maneuvers and preparations to train for a possible attack against Tehran, coinciding with the latter’s progress in its nuclear program, with the development of a special armament plan to enhance the readiness of the army and prepare for the possibility of attacking Iranian nuclear facilities.

This comes at a time when Army Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi decided to change the priorities of his institution, and put Iran on the top of its priorities by accelerating “operational plans” and preparing for the possibility of an attack against Tehran.

Also, the Tel Aviv government’s approval of the security budget for the year 2022 worth $18 billion after a two-year delay, along with an annual US aid of 3.8 billion, reflects Israel’s seriousness in its threats to attack Iran in order to prevent it from reaching the level of a “nuclear threshold state” or possessing a nuclear weapon.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed an additional budget of two billion dollars for a new armament plan (Al-Jazeera)

How ready is the Israeli army to attack Iran?

At a time when Israeli threats persist, Defense Minister Benny Gantz reveals an additional budget of two billion dollars allocated to the plan to arm advanced missiles in preparation for a possible attack against Tehran.

The plan, which has been implemented and is expected to be completed within 6 months of the year, provides for developing the offensive capabilities of the army, especially in the field of missiles and precision munitions for the Air Force, through the conclusion of long-term agreements to purchase weapons.

Israel intends to intensify its offensive operations against Iran, including frequent air strikes in Syria, cyber attacks in Tehran, and sabotage operations at Iran’s nuclear facilities.

What is the readiness of the Israeli Air Force and its capabilities to launch attacks?

Contrary to public talk about the readiness of the Israeli army for an operation against Iran and the operational plans and maneuvers in 2022, the readiness of the Air Force remains a subject of discussion behind the scenes, as the plans of this system to strike Iran are kept secret.

But the next commander of the Israeli Air Force, Major General Tomer Bar, who will take office next April, broke his silence and told the newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” on the occasion of the end of 2021, that warplanes are ready at any moment to attack Iran.

“It’s a matter of time,” Barr said, “and my job is to maintain an independent ability to operate,” refusing to address the timing of the military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

With the nuclear negotiations faltering and Israel declaring its readiness for a military option, there is a chance that the attack will take place in the state of Bar as commander of the Air Force, who said, “I realize the extent of the responsibility and I think I will give the task its due.”

When asked whether he would succeed in destroying nuclear facilities? He replied, “I can’t operate a thousand kilometers from here and come back without carrying out the mission. We have no chance of flying there without success.”

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