Israel and Iran were on good terms for 30 years, but that came to crashing halt after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Despite the countries not sharing a border or having any territorial disputes, they count one another as foes and relations between the two has been fraught. Amid heightened financial and political pressure from the United States on Tehran over its policies, Israel and Iran have exchanged threats of war and destruction. So are Israel and Iran are on the verge of war and why exactly do these countries hate each other?
Israel and Iran had maintained close ties during the Pahlavi Dynasty, the last ruling house of the Imperial State of Iran from 1925 to 1979.
However, the harmony between the two countries came to an end after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 when the Persian monarchy was overthrown and abolished.
When the last monarch of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, was overthrown, his government was also replaced with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, one of the leading factions during the revolt.
At this time, Iran abruptly severed all commercial and diplomatic ties with Israel with Iran’s government no longer recognising Israel as a state, instead referring to its government as the “Zionist regime”.
This new age in Iran ushered in a new wave of religious nationalism.
Ayatollah Khomeini referred to the USA and Israel as the “Big” and “Little Devil.”
Despite this, military cooperation between Israel and Iran continued to cooperate for much of the 1980s and 1990s, despite the mutually hostile rhetoric coming out of Tehran and Tel Aviv.
Israel even supported Iran, who had cracked down on Jewish citizens in 1948, forcing many to flee the country and resettle in Israel, when it became embroiled in open conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq decades later.
Although Israel-Iran relations had worsened over time, Israel provided an estimated $500 million worth of arms to Iran, mostly in exchange for oil.
There was a lessening in tensions between Iran and Iraq in 1975 when an accord was signed between them whereby Iran agreed to stop arming Kurdish-Iraqi separatists.
In addition to this, the death of Nasser Gamal Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt in 1970 and the subsequent rise of Anwar Sadat led to an improvement in relations between Egypt and Iran.
Both of these incidents meant Israel’s strategic value to Iran suffered.
All the while, Islamic clerics in Iran kept up a stream of negative indoctrination against Israel.
Since that time, there has been a political struggle of Iranian leadership against Israel, with the former having declared its aim to dissolve the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, Israel aims to prevent nuclear weapons being acquired by the Iranian government and downgrade its allies and proxies such as the Lebanese Hezbollah party, which holds covert Iranian support.
With increasing Iranian involvement in Syria from 2011, the conflict shifted from proxy warfare into direct confrontation in early 2018.
Israel suspects Tehran is pursuing the goal of forming a continuous land transport route from Iran via Iraq and Syria to Lebanon which it opposes because it believes it would serve as a security threat to Israel.
The Israeli government is convinced that Iran is interested in creating territorial contiguity from Iran to the Mediterranean and in transferring military forces to permanent bases in Syria, in order to “Lebanonise” Syria and take over using Shi’ite militias, as it had done with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In a number of incidents over the course of the Syrian Civil War, Israel has clashed with Hezbollah and Iranian forces in the region, with Israel being suspected of perpetrating or supporting attacks on Hezbollah and Iranian targets within Syrian territories or Lebanon.
Iran claims its foreign policy is based on aiding the oppressed vulnerable people around the world, bot for material gains, but as a humanitarian religious positive action.
In Iran’s foreign policy Israel is conceptualised as an illegitimate Zionist regime which threatens vulnerable people and Islamic region, which is a known Iran enemy.
Although the Islamic Republic of Iran is renowned for its anti-Israeli stance, its continued support for Hezbollah evolved into almost a direct confrontation with Israel, as Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have allegedly infiltrated Lebanon and directly supported Hezbollah during the past decade.
This year, Iran announced it would breach commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after the United States withdrew from the agreement and imposed sanctions on Tehran.
It is a well-known secret that, before the nuclear accord was signed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pushing for the United States, or for Israel itself, to attack the sites in Iran associated with its nuclear plans.
The nuclear deal was signed in 2015 in order to slow down Iran’s nuclear progress.
Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would threaten Israel’s monopoly of them in the Middle East and place greater constraints on Israel.
In reaction, Israel recently escalated its rhetoric to warn it is ready to strike inside Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme and role in the region.
If international tensions with Iran continued to escalate, it seems likely Israel and Iran will take dramatic unilateral action against one another.
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