People hold Palestinian flags in front of the Colosseum during a demonstration in support of Palestinians in Gaza, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Rome, Italy, October 28.

Israeli Security Expert: This Is a War Between Iran and Western Values

Tuesday, 05/21/2024

An Israeli security expert, who served for 15 years as an intelligence officer in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), told Iran International that the war between Israel and Hamas is actually a war between Iran and Western values.

“I truly believe that the ayatollahs of Iran are promoting a campaign which is a threat not only to Israel. It's not just Israel's problem, it's a global threat,” said Sarit Zehavi.

While the world is familiar with ISIS and Al Qaeda as a radical form of Sunni Islam, what is lesser known is the Iranian ayatollahs – not the Iranian people – as a representation of radical Shiite Islam, according to Zehavi. She believes Iran wants to distribute its Islamic Revolution values around the world.

The Iranian regime, for example, has been militarily and diplomatically supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. The alliance between Iran, Russia and China, forming to counter Western sanctions, is another threat to the economic and political basis of existing Western systems. Iran’s challenge to the West has only intensified with its controversial nuclear program. During this year's Iranian new year speech, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said the US will have no choice but to leave the Middle East.

The launch of October 7 with Iran as the so-called ‘boss’ of Hamas, as Zehavi puts it, was just the beginning.

“It’s under the same boss: the ayatollahs of Iran that planned this campaign and created the militias, the proxy militias in all over the region that will enable it to carry out the campaign,” said Zehavi.

Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles towards Israel on April 13, nearly two weeks after a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria that killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) members, including a very senior IRGC commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi - in his office adjacent to the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

Israel, along with the U.S. and its Arab neighbours intercepted 99 percent of the drones and missiles headed its way.

“This is a very interesting incident because Iran's main goal is to keep the conflict outside of Iran itself and use the proxy militia. I think that the fact that we don't understand completely why they decided to interfere by themselves, but it definitely can indicate the self-confidence of the ayatollahs of Iran that no one will put them at risk,” said Zehavi. ‘

Lieutenant Colonel Sarit Zehavi is the founder of the Alma Centre, which monitors and disseminates information about Israel's security challenges in the North to people outside of Israel. She briefs Washington officials, foreign delegations and policy makers from around the world.

Zehavi is living near the border with Lebanon where Iran-backed Hezbollah militants have increased their presence this past year. She said Hezbollah is so close they can see right into the homes of Israeli residents. Zehavi said she saw Hezbollah's outposts, towers and militants right at Israel's northern border line while out for a walk recently.

Hezbollah militant pictured in Lebanon near border with Israel
Hezbollah border post between Ramyeh and Ayta Ash Shab.

Zehavi said that October 7 was 'step one' in an execution by Iran to unify fronts to achieve its “goals to distribute the Islamic Revolution values all over the world and to eliminate the state of Israel.”

“What we experienced in the first seven months is the execution of the Iranian plan under the name unification of fronts. The Iranians wanted to create a multi-front campaign against the State of Israel and the Western presence here. It started from Hamas. We have Hezbollah launching missiles and drones as we speak,” said Zehavi.

Experts like Zehavi said Iran supports Hamas with $1 billion a year. The Islamic Republic also supports Palestinian Islamic Jihad with tens of millions and is providing Hezbollah with 70 per cent of its budget - and its ideology.

She refers to 'step two' as missile attacks from Hezbollah into Israel, Iran-backed Houthis attacking ships in the crucial shipping channel of the Bad al Mandab in Yemen, and attacks by Iranian-backed militia against U.S. military forces in Syria and Iraq.

Alma Research Center graphic showing the various Iran proxies.

As for a 'step three,' Zehavi said that based on statements from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah, she believes Iran and its proxies will join a full-scale war if the fighting in Gaza reaches new levels.

She said Northerners in Israel are expecting a Hamas-style attack in the region. Zehavi said more than a decade ago, Hezbollah published its offensive plan for an attack on Israel - and she described its similarity to what Hamas did to southern Israel as “astonishing.”

“They [Hezbollah] continue to say in Arabic to their own people that they have plans to execute the offensive plan to occupy the Galilee, which is where I live, and many others here in Israel,” said Zehavi.

In an interview with Iran International near the Israel- Lebanon border, Zehavi said what has transpired between Iran and Israel is not just an escalation of tensions, but is rather - war.

“It's war. 60,000 Israelis don't know when they will be able to go back to their homes. You cannot tell them it's tensions,” said Zehavi.

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