The U.S. and Iran have traded blows that have had the whole world buzzing in the past two weeks. Here’s a brief recap:
→ December 27: Hezbollah, the Iranian-funded terrorist group, carries out a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base, killing an American defense contractor.
→ December 29: The U.S. sends airstrikes against Hezbollah’s military targets.
→ December 31: Thousands of Iraqi protesters storm the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to protest, many of whom were sent by Iranian-linked militias to incite violence.
→ January 3: The U.S. kills Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike. The U.S. considers this a preemptive strike in response to Soleimani’s planned attack on four U.S. embassies.
→ January 7: Iran strikes two bases in Iraq housing U.S. forces with rockets, though no casualties are reported.
→ January 8: Iran mistakenly downs a Ukrainian passenger jet after perceiving it as a war threat, killing all 176 passengers.
With increased international violence rampaging the Middle East, you’re probably wondering how Israel plays into the action.
The answer starts on the streets of Iran. The country’s anti-government protests, which restarted on January 12, noticeably included the demonstrators’ collective decision to avoid walking over U.S. and Israeli flags in a show of support for these countries. Those who walked across the flags were rebuked by other protesters. Many chanted, “They are lying that our enemy is America; our enemy is right here,” timesofisrael.com reported. Iranian police have fired on the crowd of protesters, and instances of bloody casualties have been recorded on video. This is reminiscent of the bloodbath in November that left hundreds of anti-government protesters dead at the hands of the police, according to Amnesty International. Risking their lives, Iranians are taking matters into their own hands to oppose the regime under which they suffer.
Clearly, the enemy in the conflict is Iran’s corrupt leadership. Its people have recognized this and are willing to align with Iran’s enemies to seek justice and democracy. But as usual, Israel is still in harm’s way. The Iranian government’s hatred for Israel remains strong. Iran’s focus may be on the U.S. for now, but it will undoubtedly use any escalation of war as a justification to attack Israel.
Israel has kept a low profile thus far as Iran and the U.S. spar, but it has increased security at its borders and diplomatic installations throughout the world, knowing full well it still has an Iranian target on its back. De-escalation is the best option for peace, but Israel stands ready for whatever Iran may have planned against it.