A series of events related to the covert war between Iran and Israel in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza over the past few days indicate that this war is escalating and that Iran is trying to up the pressure on the Jewish State.
Let’s start with Iraq that recently has become a new theater in the covert war.
At the end of last week unknown unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) bombed a base under construction belonging to the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and Iran-backed Shiite militias near the border town of Al-Bukamal.
The attack killed 18 members of those militias and was attributed to the Israeli air force by Iraqi officials.
The Israeli army (IDF) kept mum on the attack against Al-Bukamal, which is an important link in the so-called land bridge between the Iranian border in the Nineveh province in Iraq and the Golan Heights in Israel that Iran has been trying to establish for years.
Less than a day later, Iran-backed militias in the Damascus region in Syria reportedly tried to stage a retaliatory attack on Israel by launching a number of missiles in the direction of the Israel Golan Heights. The Grad rockets used in the attack failed to reach Israel, however.
On Tuesday morning, Arab media and Sky News reported a new mysterious blast in a weapon depot belonging to Iran-backed militias in the Anbar Province in Iraq.
An Iraqi officer told local media that 21 militia fighters died in the blast, which he said was a drone attack.
Then there is Lebanon which witnessed a violent confrontation with the IDF at the beginning of last week which was instigated by Hezbollah.
Hezbollah first warned Israel not to use Lebanese airspace again for missions in Syria and to spy on the terrorist organization which has been turned into an army during the Syrian war. When Israeli drones nevertheless continued overflights in Lebanon Hezbollah decided to down one of the Israeli planes and said it had restored deterrence.
At the same time, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah increased his belligerent rhetoric against Israel and said there were no more red lines in the defense of Lebanon while he mocked the IDF which he called a cowardly “Hollywood army”.
This was a reference to the transfer of healthy soldiers with fake blood on their bandages to Rambam hospital in Haifa last week during the clashes near Moshav Avivim.
Earlier, the Hezbollah leader said his organization and others were in the middle of a “major campaign” against Israel.
Israel, for its part, seems to prepare the international community for a possible war against Hezbollah.
In a letter to the UN Security Council (UNSC) Israel ambassador Danny Danon revealed that Hezbollah “operates a site intended for the production and conversion of precision missiles near the town of Nabi Chit in the Bekaa Valley, with Iranian sponsorship, including financial and logistical support.”
Danon also gave the UNSC the names of the Iranian commanders involved in the missile conversion project and claimed that Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani personally oversees the operation.
The Israeli military, meanwhile, is holding a massive 4-day drill in preparation for a multi-front war against Hezbollah and its allies in Syria and Gaza.
On the latter front, there were also new developments this weekend which the IDF sees as new evidence that Iran is pulling the strings in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, for the first time, used an UAV to bomb an IDF base near Gaza.
The UAV managed to drop a bomb on one of the base buildings, but it only caused light damage to a vehicle. Iran is a world leader in the use of UAVs for military missions and recently decided to give Hamas $ 30 million a month to continue its war of attrition against Israel.
The drone attack on the IDF base was followed by the downing of an IDF drone over southern Gaza.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the downing of the UAV and claimed its ‘soldiers’ had shot down the drone.
What followed next had the potential to become a war again.
IAF warplanes bombed several sites belonging to Hamas’ aerial unit which had been executing the attack with the drone after which the terrorist factions in Gaza launched new rockets at southern Israel.
At this point, the Egyptians again intervened and sent a delegation into Gaza to de-escalate the situation.
It didn’t work either. On Tuesday night rockets were fired from Gaza towards the Israeli cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon after which the IAF bombed 15 Hamas military sites in Gaza.
Netanyahu is now trying to convince world leaders to keep up the pressure on Iran and paid an unexpected visit to Britain where he discussed recent developments involving Iran including the discovery of a new secret nuclear weapons facility south of the Iranian city Isfahan with his British counterpart Boris Johnson.
The Israeli leader is reportedly in daily contact with the White House and also will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week.