Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have not given up the dream of carrying out a major operation in Iran.
This week, however, the premier crossed a private red line by daring to authorize the undertaking of a large military operation. It isn't a war, in his view, rather a military move whose goals, duration and achievements are circumscribed. But the dark cloud in the Gaza skies might serve as an alternative, or preface to, an Iran operation. It all depends on circumstances and what happens further down what may be a long road.
At the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel made use of psychological warfare in order to deter and to exert influence; this approach involved the use of reservist call-ups, reinforcement of forces, and the sending of signals about a readiness to launch a land invasion as a result of the barrage of missiles, bombs and shelling. Now, Israel will try to make use of this show of strength as leverage in the Iranian context.
In theory, a force which is able to strike against Ahmed Jabari would be able to pinpoint the location of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And a force that destroyed Fajr rockets would be able to reach their bigger siblings, the Shihabs, as well as Iran's nuclear installations. So as not to leave a shred of doubt, the IDF Spokesman emphasized that "the Gaza Strip has become Iran's frontline base." At first glance, Operation Pillar of Defense seems to be aimed at the Palestinian arena, but in reality it is geared toward Iranian hostility against Israel.
Operation Pillar of Defense represents a practical test of expertise for the Israel Air Force commander and the head of IDF Intelligence, Maj. Gens. Amir Eshel and Aviv Kochavi, respectively. More than anything, however, it is a test for IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the commander whom neither Barak nor Netanyahu wanted - though now they heap praise upon him as though he were always their preferred choice.
[link to www.haaretz.com