The Irish News view on what comes next after Iran’s attack on Israel

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system was launched to intercept missiles fired from Iran on Saturday night (Tomer Neuberg/AP)
The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system was launched to intercept missiles fired from Iran on Saturday night (Tomer Neuberg/AP) (Tomer Neuberg/AP)

THE world stands ominously at a cliff-edge, staring into the oblivion of widespread and devastating tit-for-tat conflict from which there would be no going back.

Perhaps most worrying is that much of the power in this live-or-die scenario rests in the hands of an Israeli Prime Minister who would struggle to recognise restraint if it was dropped on him from one of the air raids of which he is so fond.

Benjamin Netanyahu has shown himself to be one of the most strident political hawks in recent memory, as the devastating death toll in Gaza bears witness to.

Under his watch, more than 33,000 people have been killed in Palestine over little more than six months, a significant proportion of whom are women and children.

For so much to now rest on the decisions of his war cabinet and the actions of his savage Israel Defence Forces is a deeply concerning situation to be in.

Despite a period of enmity between the nations that can be traced back to the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Saturday was the first time Iran had launched a direct military assault on their Israeli neighbours.

More than 350 drones and missiles were propelled with the US, UK, France and Jordan assisting Tel Aviv in intercepting and disabling the majority of them before they could cause their intended destruction and damage.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Israel should now be “smart as well as tough” and recognise Tehran’s attack as “an almost total failure”. Joe Biden said his buddy Netanyahu ought to “take the win” and leave it there.

However, we then had Israel’s military chief Lt Gen Herzi Halevi leaping to his feet to insist the strike “will be met with a response”.

And Iran, one of the most miltarised states in the region, has already made it clear that Israeli retaliation, should it come, would be met with an even harsher reaction – such is the quid pro quo nature of conflict.

All of which is thoroughly depressing and gravely concerning.

The Middle East has long been a tinder box with the capacity to explode at any time.

The death spiral which followed Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s despicable cross-border attack on October 7 continues seemingly unabated. Aid workers, journalists, women, children, hospitals, embassies – nothing seems out of bounds or a step too far.

Creating war to make the peace is rarely a path to anywhere so the world and its leaders should be frantically trying to find ways to end the bloodshed and destruction and Israel should be heeding calls for restraint and calm in the face of Iran’s actions.

Otherwise, the cycle of deaths will inexorably continue and sweep away more innocent lives on all sides.