Israel’s Airstrike on Iran: Escalating Tensions and Reactions in Iran

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Background

Background

Despite shows of support, like this anti-Israel rally, many in Iran are deeply concerned about the prospect of an all-out war between the countries. Credit: Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

Recent Developments

After a week of tense internal deliberation and international appeals for calm, Israel struck an air defense system in Iran on Friday, according to Western and Iranian officials. Israel’s airstrike was the latest in an exchange of attacks between the countries.

Analysis

I spoke about Iran and Israel with my colleague Farnaz Fassihi, the U.N. bureau chief, who covers the shadow war between the countries.

What does this attack mean for the conflict between Iran and Israel?

Fassihi mentioned, “I think it marks a new chapter in their yearslong adversarial relationship because, despite fighting each other covertly, and through proxies, and through shadow operations, it’s the first time in 45 years that they’ve attacked each other directly. So it’s a turning point in the relationship that sort of upends all the previous rules. They’ve really both taken things up a notch significantly, and I think it remains to be seen whether this latest tit-for-tat will create some sort of deterrence for both sides.”

How are people reacting in Iran?

Fassihi highlighted, “In Iran, people are very anxious about a war with Israel, but this comes on top of many other problems that Iranians have. The government has started a very aggressive campaign in the streets, cracking down on women who are not observing the hijab law. The government is summoning activists and journalists or anybody who criticizes their Israel policy. They’re issuing gag orders. So people in Iran feel like they’re being squeezed from many different sides.”

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