In the aftermath of the Palestinian Hamas movement’s Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israeli border communities, the tension between Israel and the Iran-led ‘Axis of Resistance’ has escalated to unprecedented levels. While many members of the Axis have actively engaged in operations against Israel and the US, portrayed as triggered by the Gaza war, each has chosen varying degrees of confrontation—strategically avoiding a full-blown war. To grasp the underlying calculations, it is vital to consider the nuanced approaches taken by the Axis on Israel as well as the shifting rules of engagement and limits of confrontation.
Between a rock and a hard place
The events on Oct. 7 represented a significant setback for Israel, exposing vulnerabilities in its intelligence and military apparatus. After 48 days of subsequent war and bombardment of Gaza that claimed thousands of Palestinian lives, Israel was forced to accept a temporary ceasefire and agreed to Hamas’s request to exchange detainees without fulfilling any of its goals—including eradicating Hamas in Gaza and...
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