Minute by minute planning to bomb the Islamic Republic

Amos Harel in Haaretz on the supposedly normal plans to bomb Iran:

For an Israeli attack to be considered, Israel would need the tacit approval of the Obama administration, if only in the sense that it looks the other way. This is due above all to the necessity of passing through the Iraqi air corridor, as American soldiers will still be in Iraq in 2011. No less important is strategic coordination for the day after: How will the United States react to a prolonged aerial attack by Israel on the nuclear sites and to the regional flare-up that might follow?

These are matters that would have to be agreed on directly between Obama and Netanyahu. The disparity in their policy stances, together with the total lack of personal chemistry between them, is liable to prove a hindrance.

Iran is likely to respond to an Israeli attack by opening fronts nearby, via Hezbollah from Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Three years after the Second Lebanon War and at the end of a broad process of learning lessons from that conflict, the IDF is quite confident of its ability to deal with Hezbollah. At the same time, it’s clear that Israel will be subjected to extensive rocket attacks that can be expected to cover most of the country.

A key question would be Syria’s behavior. Israel has a salient interest in having Damascus be no more than a spectator in a confrontation. If the attack on Iran is perceived to have been successful, that is probably how the Syrians will respond.

But an attack on Iran will reopen a decades-old blood feud – and the Iranians have both a long memory and a great deal of patience. With decisions like this looming within a year, it’s no wonder that Netanyahu wants to get the Gilad Shalit affair wrapped up.