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EDITORIAL | With Attack on Israel, Iran Pushes for Wider Mideast War

How could Iran demand no retaliation after its direct attack on Israel? Now the world must prevent the escalation of the Middle East conflict.

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Israel activated its anti-missile system after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel on April 14, 2024. (©REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

Iran has launched a major direct attack on Israel. More than 300 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and suicide drones targeted Israeli territory. Collectively, the Israeli military, American military, and other parties managed to shoot down nearly all of them.

Iran and Israel have been sworn enemies for many years, but this was the first such direct attack. Previously, Iranian proxies have attacked Israel and both sides have repeatedly attacked targets belonging to each other in third countries. 

Iran maintains that its massive attack was a response to the Israeli attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria, on April 1. And it is now saying that it would like to avoid further escalation of the situation. 

Iranians carry a model of a missile during a celebration following the IRGC attack on Israel, in Tehran, Iran, April 15, 2024. (©REUTERS/Firas Makdesi, Majid Asgaripour/WANA, West Asia News Agency)

The fact remains, however, that Iran crossed a red line by directly attacking the sovereign territory of another nation. 

Condemned by G7 Leaders 

Tehran cannot escape strong condemnation. Leaders of the G7 nations held an emergency meeting online, during which they "condemned in the strongest terms" the attack and called on Iran and its proxies to refrain from further attacks. They also promised "full solidarity and support" for Israel. We agree in all respects.

Israel is now considering counterattacking. Moreover, Iran and its proxies may also carry out repeated attacks. By all means, we must seek to avoid escalation of the situation which would lead to the outbreak of a Fifth Mideast War — this time between Israel and Iran. 

The impact of such a conflict would be global in scale. If the United States becomes more involved in the Mideast than it is currently, then its attention to the Indo-Pacific region and other areas will suffer. 

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari spoke to the media on April 16, 2024 at Julis Military Base in Southern Israel. The Israeli military spokesperson displayed what he said was an Iranian ballistic missile which was retrieved from the Dead Sea after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel. (©REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

Furthermore, its ability to respond to developments would be slowed. And if its deterrent strength declines, that could raise concerns about a Taiwan crisis. Support for Ukraine would also be further delayed. 

Learning from 'Arrow' and 'Iron Dome'

Such a war would also have an impact on global energy security. Stability in the Mideast is of vital importance to Japan, which is dependent on the region for over 90% of its crude oil imports. Therefore, Japan, which has friendly relations with both Israel and Iran, must continue its diplomatic efforts to calm the situation. 

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At the same time, we hope the government and private companies will prepare for a worst-case scenario. They must take all necessary measures to prepare to evacuate and ensure the safety of Japanese nationals in potentially affected areas. Preparations for the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces units should also be completed as soon as possible. 

Israel was able to hit incoming ballistic missiles with its homegrown "Arrow" anti-ballistic missile system. It also used jet fighters and its "Iron Dome" air defense system to deal with cruise missiles and drones. Israel's success in repelling the massive air attack can serve as a lesson in preparedness for Japan, which remains exposed to threats from countries like China and North Korea. 

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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun