BESA: The Gaza Terror Offensive – 9 March – 14 April 2024, By Dr. Eado Hecht


BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 2,215, 14 April 2024

We cannot always prevent the murder of workers in an orchard or sleeping families, but we can set a high price for our blood. A price too high for the Arab settlement, the Arab army and the Arab government to pay. … [Retaliation operations] are not for vengeance. It is an act of punishment and warning, that if that state does not control its population and does not prevent them attacking us – the Israeli forces will cause havoc in its land.

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan,

Lecture to IDF officers: “Retaliation Operations as a Means of Ensuring Peace”, July 1955

(Published in IDF monthly journal Skira Hodsheet, August 1955). 


Israel – Iran:

Over the past six weeks there has been an escalation in Israeli air strikes against Iranian, Hezbollah, and other pro-Iranian militia locations in Syria. The most powerful strike, on 1 April, killed the commander, the deputy commander, and several staff members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard force coordinating the actions of all the allied and proxy Iranian forces operating against Israel. These are the highest-ranking Iranian officers to have been killed since the 2020 assassination by the US of Qassem Soleimani, who was chief of the Iranian al-Quds organization and responsible for all Iranian operations outside Iran aimed at the US, Israel, and pro-western Arab states. The targets of the 1 April strike were convening in a building adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus. The Iranians claim the building was in fact a consulate, so Israel placed its embassies across the world on alert for a tit-for-tat retaliation.

During the night of 13-14 April, after two weeks of threats, the Iranians retaliated with their first-ever direct attack from Iranian territory into Israel. The operation is called “The True Promise.” According to Israeli officials, Iran launched a barrage containing 185 explosive drones (nicknamed “suicide-drones”), 36 cruise missiles, and at least 110 ballistic missiles. In addition to the direct Iranian action, their various allies and proxies – the Houthis in Yemen, Iraqi Hezbollah forces in Iraq and Syria, and the Lebanese Hezbollah – also fired at Israel.

The attack appeared to involve four waves of launches: two of explosive drones, then the cruise missiles and then the ballistic missiles. The wave sequence, which closely resembles the tactic used by Russia in its strikes on Ukraine, was intended to do two things:

  • First, to deliver the different weapons so their arrival at their targets would be either simultaneous or with only short intervals between them. Each weapon flies at a different speed (drones are the slowest and ballistic missiles the fastest). They may have been flown on different routes to achieve near-concurrent arrival timing.
  • Secondly, to inundate Israel’s anti-rocket/missile defenses; compel it to use up its stores of ready-to-launch interceptor missiles to combat the first, less powerful drones (40-50 kilograms of explosive each) just prior to the arrival of the heavier explosive-payload-carrying missiles (depending on the model, they range from a few hundred to 1,200 kilograms each); and deprive Israel of sufficient time to reload the interceptor batteries before the latter arrived.

To reach Israel from Iran, the drones and missiles flew over Iraq, with some then proceeding through Syria and others through Jordan. Another possible route was over Saudi Arabia, then over southern Jordan or northeastern Egypt, but there have as yet been no reports suggesting the Iranians used this route.

Probable Flight Routes

Israeli defenses contain five layers:

  • The best known is the Iron Dome system, which is optimized to intercept low-flying rockets and certain types of drones. A new variant called the Sea Dome, which is mounted on a ship, was used for the first time a few days ago to defend against drones or missiles launched from Yemen towards the Israeli southern port of Eilat. They participated again during the April 13-14 attack.
  • The Magic Wand system, which works against medium-altitude rockets and missiles. This system first became operational a couple of years ago.
  • The Arrow system, which works against high-altitude missiles. This is the most veteran of Israel’s systems.
  • A new variant of the Arrow system that works against exo-atmospheric missiles.
  • To combat drones, Israel uses fighter aircraft and attack helicopters. Drones are essentially small unmanned aircraft, so shooting them down with other aircraft is a fairly similar process to ordinary air combat. That said, drones are smaller and therefore harder to detect. They are also slower, which requires faster responses by the pilots who must avoid overtaking them before shooting them down. (To stay airborne, aircraft need to maintain a minimum speed, and fighter jets have a higher minimum speed than drones. This is easier for helicopters, but they don’t carry radar and so must conduct visual detection, which is almost impossible at night.) On the other hand, current models cannot conduct evasive maneuvers to throw off the aim of the attacking aircraft.

During the attack of April 13-14, a sixth layer of defense was created by other states supporting Israel. The American and British air forces participated in defending Israel by intercepting drones in Iraqi air space and in eastern Syria. According to reports, they employed fighter aircraft, which suggests that they participated in shooting down drones. French “capabilities” (whatever that means) also participated in defending Israel, and the IDF spokesperson said other unspecified countries participated as well.

Some of the Houthi launches may have been intercepted by American and British warships in the Red Sea firing anti-missile interceptor missiles, which they have been doing for the past few months (perhaps the reference to the French is also in this area?). Jordanian air defenses also reported intercepting a number of drones and/or missiles, and Jordan reportedly allowed Israeli aircraft to enter its airspace to conduct interceptions. It is possible that some of the longer-range Israeli interceptor missiles also overflew Jordan. Israeli aircraft also entered southern Syria to intercept incoming drones before they reached Israeli territory.

The final stage of Israel’s defense was its anti-rocket/missile systems. Apparently, the vast majority of the drones and missiles flying towards and into Israel were shot down. Only a handful landed inside Israeli territory – inside an air force base in southern Israel (causing minimal damage and apparently ineffective, as the base continues to operate as usual). The Iranians claim the air force base was the one from which the Israeli aircraft that attacked their commanders in Damascus took off.

A ten-year-old Israeli Bedouin child living in southern Israel was seriously wounded when fragments hit her head (it is not yet clear if they were fragments from a successful interception or a drone or missile explosion on the ground). There is also a report from Jordan that three civilians were killed and several others wounded by fragments from destroyed drones or missiles falling to the ground. Other interceptions occurred over northern Lebanon with no casualties reported.

According to photographs posted on social media in Iraq, at least one Iranian missile fell inside the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and others in northern Iraq.

The Biden administration is reportedly pressuring Israel NOT to respond to the Iranian attack.

In Israel the current debate is whether to respond relative to the size of the Iranian attack, or, given its general failure, only relative to its miniscule achievements.

In Iran the leadership is crowing about a huge success. It is claiming that the attack achieved its purpose and says Iran will now desist unless Israel retaliates.

Billboard in Palestine Square in Tehran: A message to Israel, the caption in Hebrew – The Next Mistake Will Be the End of Your Fake Country

Forgotten because of the missile attack is the incident of the Iranian military’s hijacking of a container ship because it belongs to a company partially owned by an Israeli. This is not the first such attack – over the past few years, oil-carrying ships have been targeted for hijacking or explosive-drone attack by the Iranians – but it is apparently the first Iranian attack on a ship carrying shipping containers rather than oil.reluctance to shoot at ambulances.




Βίας ο Πριηνεύς: Άκουγε πολλά, μίλα την ώρα που πρέπει.

Θαλής o Μιλήσιος: Καλύτερα να σε φθονούν παρά να σε λυπούνται.

Κλεόβουλος ο Λίνδιος: Το μέτρο είναι άριστο.

Περίανδρος ο Κορίνθιος: Οι ηδονές είναι θνητές, οι αρετές αθάνατες.

Πιττακός ο Μυτιληναίος: Με την ανάγκη δεν τα βάζουν ούτε οι θεοί.

Σωκράτης: Εν οίδα ότι ουδέν οίδα. Ουδείς εκών κακός.

Θουκυδίδης: Δύο τα εναντιότατα ευβουλία είναι, τάχος τε και οργήν.

Πλάτων: Άγνοια, η ρίζα και ο μίσχος όλου του κακού. 

Αριστοτέλης: Δεν υπάρχει τίποτε πιο άνισο από την ίση μεταχείριση των ανίσων.