Even so, the Iranians have plenty to lose if the conflict continues to grow. They still seem determined to preserve the nuclear accord despite renewed American sanctions. The accord also includes Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union.
“We see now that Netanyahu feels that Iran’s capacities in Syria are vulnerable, that he can target them, that Iran’s capacities to strike back are weakened — he took out some of these capacities, probably less than he claims — and that Iran has no significant way to react without risking itself,” said Ofer Zalzberg, an analyst at the International Crisis Group.
Israel made it clear on Thursday that its planning for the airstrikes had been known internally as “Chess,” and it looked in the aftermath as though Iran might have been baited into a trap on the Syrian game board.
Iran’s rocket attack against Israel came after what appeared to have been an Israeli missile strike against a village in the Syrian Golan Heights late on Wednesday.
Early on Thursday, Iranian forces fired about 20 Grad and Fajr-5 rockets at the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, targeting forward positions of the Israeli military, according to an Israeli military spokesman. The barrage was launched under the command of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and used Iranian weapons, said the Israeli spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
Four of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile defense system, and the rest fell short of the Israeli-controlled territory, the military said. Indeed, by Thursday morning, Israeli life returned to routine in the Golan Heights, with children going to school.
Still, the rocket attack was a significant escalation in Iran’s maneuvers in the Middle East. Though Israel has hit Iranian forces in Syria with a number of deadly airstrikes, Tehran had been restrained in hitting back, until now.