update deskIsrael at War

‘NYT’: Israel underestmated Iranian counterattack

Washington and Jerusalem thought Tehran's response would be limited in scope, officials told the paper.

An Israeli air-defense battery fires interceptors at missiles fired from Iran, as seen from Jerusalem, April 14, 2024. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.
An Israeli air-defense battery fires interceptors at missiles fired from Iran, as seen from Jerusalem, April 14, 2024. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.

Israel “badly miscalculated” the extent of the Iranian reaction to the alleged targeted killing of an Iranian general in Damascus on April 1, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing anonymous U.S. officials.

“Even after it became clear that Iran would retaliate, U.S. and Israeli officials initially thought the scale of the response would be fairly limited, before scrambling to revise their assessment again and again,” the Times reported.

Iran, with the help of allies in the region, ultimately launched around 500 explosive drones and missiles at the Jewish state, 99% of which were intercepted by Israel’s and its allies’ defenses.

The Times cited internal Israeli defense records that it had viewed from March 22 approving the targeted killing of Brig. Gen. Mohammad Zahedi, a top commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force.

The records discussed the possible Iranian responses to the attack, which included small-scale proxy attacks, and even a small-scale attack directly from Iran.

“None of the assessments predicted the ferocity of the Iranian response that actually occurred,” the Times said.

“The Israelis later acknowledged that they had badly misjudged the consequences of the strike, U.S. officials and an Israeli official said,” according to the paper.

In the lead-up to the attack, intermediaries relayed Iranian messages to the U.S. and Israel that it planned to hit military, and not civilian, targets, and would moderate its attack “so as not to elicit an Israeli counterstrike.”

In reality, Iran was building out its attack plans with the goal of penetrating Israeli defenses, Israeli officials said.

Israeli military and intelligence officials at first expected 10 surface-to-surface missiles to attack but then realized Iran planned something bigger, up to 60-to-70 such missiles, but that estimate also fell far short of the actual event.

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