After Iran’s Barrage, Israel Questions What Might Be Next for the Gaza War

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Within moments of Israel and its allies shooting down a fusillade of Iranian missiles and drones this weekend, many began wondering what the latest exchange between Israel and Iran would mean for the war in the Gaza Strip.

The Iranian attack was retaliation for what was widely believed to be an Israeli strike this month on an embassy building in Damascus that killed seven Iranian officials, including three top commanders in Iran’s armed forces. But it occurred against the backdrop of the war in Gaza, where Israel is battling Hamas, a militant group funded and armed by Iran.

Israeli military analysts were divided on whether a more direct confrontation with Iran would alter the war in Gaza, now in its sixth month. The next fulcrum in that war could hinge on whether Israel decides to pursue Hamas in the southern city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have fled amid a spiraling humanitarian crisis.

Some analysts argued that the implications for Gaza would depend on whether Israel responded with a major counterattack against Iran. Others contended that Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip would be unaffected.

Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general and a former director of the Israeli military’s strategic planning division, said that if Israel responds with substantial force to the Iranian attack, it could spark a multifront war that would compel the Israeli leadership to move its attention away from Gaza.

In the case of a significant regional conflagration, General Brom said, Israel might choose to delay its plans to invade Rafah, which Israeli officials describe as the last Hamas stronghold.

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